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There are but four hundred and fifty complete sets made for 
the world) of which this is copy 






The Heimskringla 




(From a painting by Th. Wegener.) 

VALDE^M^A^^fcjo>orTBi5itji Wcatfrwojus, was first married 
^TpIVwivKjLS .Qi.uIvJ^AvX-'Ix" . 

to Margrete oFTJohemia, whom the Danes afterwards, in 

their admiration of her gentleness and beauty, called Dagmar, 
which signifies "Day's Maiden." So great a favorite was she 
with the people that the fame of her virtues was celebrated 
in their national ballads, "the Kaempeviser." It was for many 
ears believed that from her tomb in Rjngstead Abbev issued 
fja t*M**&fclfi8,I <#ea%$y feUi? Willustra- 
tion represents her receptj^n as Valdemar's bride and welcome 
to Denmark by the people. 

SAMUEL LA *<*. Seepage!^. 



VOL. I. 





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The Heimskringla 










VOL. I. 






VOL. I. 

Frontispiece Valdemar II. Receiving Dammar at 
Ribe, 1205. 


Olaf Consults the Seer of Scilly Isles 105 

Earl Hakon Murdered by Kark 215 

Olaf and His Dog Vige 341 



Preface of Snorre Sturlason 1 

Saga of Halfdan the Black 6 

Half dan Fights with Gandalf and Sigtryg; Battle Be- 
tween Halfdan and Eystein 7 

Halfdan's Marriage 8 

Half dan's Strife with Gandalf s Sons 9 

Of Ragnhild's Dream 11 

Of Halfdan's Dream 12 

Halfdan's Meat Vanishes at a Feast 13 

Halfdan's Death 14 

Saga of Harald Harfager 16 

Harald Overcomes Five Kings 17 

Of Gyda, Daughter of Eirik 18 

Harald's Vow and Battle in Orkadal 19 

Harald's Land and Property Laws 20 

Battle in Gaulardal 21 

Harald's Home Affairs 22 

Battle at Solskel 23 

Fall of Kings Arnvid and Audbjorn 24 

King Vemund Burnt to Death 26 

Death of Earls Hakon and Mjove 27 

Harald and the Swedish King Eirik 28 

Harald at a Feast of Peasant Ake 29 

A Battle in Gautland 31 

Hrane Gauzke's Death 32 

Battle in Hafersfjord 33 

Harald Supreme Sovereign in Norway 34 

Harald's Marriage and his Children 35 

Harald's Voyage to the West 36 

Rolf Ganger Driven into Banishment 38 

Fin Svase and King Harald 39 

Thjodolf, the Skald 41 

Earl Torfeinar Obtains the Orkneys 42 

King Eirik Eymundson's Death 43 

Guthorm's Death, Ragnvald Burnt in his House 44 

Halfdan Haleg's Death 45 

Harald and Einar Reconciled 46 

Death of Guthorm and Halfdan the White 47 

Story of Eirik's Marriage to Gunhild 47 

Harald Divides his Kingdom 49 

Death of Ragnvald Rettilbeine 51 

King Bjorn Kaupman's Death 52 

Reconciliation of the Kings 53 

Birth of Hakon the Good 55 

King Athelstan's Message 56 




Hauk's Journey to England 57 

Hakon is Baptized 58 

KingHarald's Death 59 

Death of Olaf and Sigrod 6 

Saga of Hakon the Good 62 

Hakon Chosen King 63 

Eirik's Departure from the Country. 60 

Eirik's Death 66 

Gunhild and Her Sons 68 

Battle in Jutland 69 

Hakon's Expedition to Denmark 70 

Of King Trygve 71 

Hakon as a Law Giver; Birth of Earl Hakon 73 

Jamtaland and Helsingjaland 74 

Hakon Spreads Christianity 75 

About Sacrifices 77 

The Frosta-Thing 78 

Hakon Offers Sacrifices 80 

Feast of the Sacrifice at More 82 

Battle of Ogvaldsnes 83 

King Hakon's Laws 84 

Concerning Eirik's Sons 85 

Egil Ulserk 86 

Battle at Fredarberg 87 

King Gamle and Ulserk Fall 89 

Ulserk's Burial Ground; News of War 91 

Armament of Eirik's Sons 93 

King Hakon's Battle Array 94 

Fall of Skreyja and Askman 95 

Hakon's Death 97 

Saga of Harald Graf eld and Earl Hakon 100 

Government of the Sons of Eirik 100 

Christianity of Gunhild's Sons 103 

Councils by Gunhild and Her Sons 104 

Gunhild's Sons and Grjotgard 105 

Sigurd Burnt in a House in Stjoradal 106 

History of Hakon, Sigurd's Son 107 

Of Harald Graf eld 108 

Earl Eirik's Birth 109 

Murder of King Olafson Trygve 110 

King Gudron's Fall Ill 

Of Harald Grenske 112 

Earl Hakon's Feuds 113 

Earl Hakon and Gunhild's Sons 114 

Sigurd Selfa's Murder 115 

Grjotgard's Fall 116 

King Erling's Fall 117 

The Icelanders and Eyvind the Skald 118 




Saga of King Olaf Trygvason 119 

Olaf Trygvason's Birth 119 

Astrid's Journey 121 

Hakon's Embassy to Sweden 123 

Of Sigurd Eirikson 124 

Olaf Set Free in Eistland 125 

Klerkon Killed by Olaf 125 

Hakon, Earl of Hlader 127 

Of Gold Harald 128 

Councils Held by Hakon and Harald 129 

Harald Gormson's Message to Norway 131 

Treachery of Harald and Hakon 132 

Death of Harald Grafeld 133 

Gold Harald's Death and Division of the Kingdom 134 

Gunhild's Sons Leave the Country 135 

Hakon's Battle with Ragnfred 136 

Earl Hakon's Marriage 139 

Death o r Skopte 140 

Olaf Trygvason's Journey from Russia 141 

Olaf Trygvason's Marriage 143 

Harald Opposes Christianity 144 

Olaf Trygvason's War Expedition 145 

Otta and Hakon in Battle 146 

Harald and Hakon are Baptized 147 

Hakon Renounces Christianity 148 

Emperor Otta Returns Home 149 

King Olaf's Forays 150 

King Olaf is Baptized 151 

Olaf Marries Gyda 153 

Olaf and Alfvine Fight a Duel 154 

Olaf Gets his Dog Vige 154 

Harald Gormson Sails Against Iceland 155 

Harald Sends a Warlock to Iceland 156 

Harald Gormson's Death 157 

Vow of the Jomsborg Vikings 159 

Eirik and Hakon Make a War Levy 160 

Expedition of the Jomsborg Vikings 161 

Battle with the Jomsborg Vikings 163 

Earl Sigvald's Flight 165 

Bue Throws Himself Overboard 165 

Vikings Bound Together by one Chain 166 

Death of Gissur of Valders 168 

King Harald Grenske's Death 169 

Birth of Olaf, son of Grenske 171 

About Earl Hakon 172 

Thorer Klakka's Journey 173 

Olaf Trygvason Comes to Norway 174 

Earl Hakon's Flight 176 




Death of Erlend and Hakon 179 

Earl Hakon's Head 181 

Olaf Trygvason Elected King 182 

Lodin's Marriage 183 

Olaf Baptizes the Country of Viken 184 

Ragaland Baptized 186 

Erling Skjalgson's Wooing 188 

Hordaland Baptized 189 

Erling Skjalgson's Wedding 189 

Baptizing in Raumsdale and Fjord Districts 190 

Olaf Proposes Marriage to Queen Sigrid 191 

Olaf Haraldson Baptized 102 

Meeting of Olaf and Sigrid 192 

The Burning of Warlocks 193 

Eyvind Kelda's Death 194 

Olaf, and Odin's Apparition 195 

The Thing in Throndhjem 196 

Jarnskegge, or Iron Beard 197 

The Feast at Hlader 198 

Proceedings at the Throndjem Thing 199 

Throndjem People Baptized 200 

King Olaf's Marriage 201 

Building of the Ship Crane 202 

Thangbrand, the Priest, goes to Iceland 202 

Sigurd and Hauk, and Harek of Thjotta 203 

Eyvind Kinrifa's Death 205 

Halogaland Made Christian 207 

Thorer Hjort's Death 207 

Olaf's Voyage to Godey 208 

How Raud was Tortured 209 

Of the Icelanders 211 

Baptism of the Icelanders 214 

Halfred Vandredaskald Baptized 215 

Thangbrand Returns from Iceland 216 

Of King Olaf's Feats 217 

Baptism of Leif Eirikson 218 

Fall of King Gudrod 218 

Building the Ship Long Serpent 219 

Earl Eirik, son of Hakon '.'221 

Eirik's Forays on the Baltic Coast [222 

Marriage of Kings Svein and Burizleif ^223 

Olaf Gets Thyre in Marriage 224 

Olaf's Levy for War . ! ! 226 

Crew of the Long Serpent 227 

Iceland Baptized 228 

Greenland Baptized 229 

Ragnvald Sends Messengers to Olaf ............... ..229 

Qlaf Sends an Expedition to Vindland ^231 




Conspiracy Against King Olaf > 233 

Earl Sigvalde's Treacherous Plans 234 

Olaf s Voyage from Vindland 235 

Consultation of the Kings 236 

Of King Olaf's People 238 

Olaf's Ships Made Ready for Battle 239 

The Battle Begins 241 

Flight of Svein and Olaf, the Swede 241 

Of Earl Eirik 243 

Of Einar Tambaskelfer 244 

Olaf Gives his Men Sharp Swords 244 

The Long Serpent Boarded 245 

How Her Decks were Cleared 246 

Strange Reports Among the People 247 

Earl Eirik, son of Hakon 248 

Saga of Olaf Haraldson 251 

Saint Olaf's Bringing Up 251 

Olaf and King Sigurd Syr 252 

King Olaf's Accomplishments 252 

King Olaf's War Expedition 253 

Olaf's First Battle 254 

A Foray in Svithjod 254 

Olaf's Second Battle 256 

Olaf's Third, Fourth and Fifth Battle 257 

Death of King Svein Forked Beard 258 

Olaf's Several Succeeding Battles 260 

King Olaf's Dream 264 

Of the Earls of Rouen 265 

"* Earling Skjalgson 266 

Earl Eirik 269 

Murder of Edmund 270 

Olaf and Ethelred's Sons 270 

Olaf and Ethelred's Sons Capture a Castle 271 

Olaf's Expedition to Norway 272 

Hakon Taken Prisoner by Olaf 273 

Hakon's Departure for Norway 275 

Asta Receives her Son Olaf 275 

King Sigurd's Dress 277 

Of the Feast 278 

Conversation of Olaf and Sigurd 279 

Kings in the Upland Districts 282 

--""Olaf Gets the Title of King from the Thing 285 

King Olaf Travels in the Uplands 286 

A Levy Against Olaf in Throndhjem 287 

Earl Svein's Proceedings 289 

- Consultation between Svein and Einar 290 

Sigvat the Skald 291 

Of Ea~l Svein 292 




King Olaf Prepares Another Expedition 293 

Earl Svein and King Olaf's Forces 294 

King Olaf's Speech 295 

The Battle at Nesjar 296 

Earl Svein's Flight . .' 297 

Olaf and Sigurd's Consultation 300 

Plans Laid by Olaf and Svein 301 

Death of Svein 302 

King Olaf's Household and Habits 304 

King Olaf's Messengers 306 

The Reconciling of Olaf and Erling 308 

Murder of Eilif of Gautland 311 

History of Eyvind Urarhorn 314 

White's Murder, Hroe's Fall, and Christianity Pro- 
claimed 315 

Fall of Gudleik and Thorgaut 316 

Olaf Trygvason and Olaf the Swede 318 

Journey of Bjorn the Marshal 321 

Conversation of Bjorn and Ingebjorg 324 

Sigvat the Skald 326 

Skeggjason in Svithjod 327 

Olaf's Journey to the Uplands 334 

Treachery of the Upland Kings 335 

Mutilating of the Upland Kings 338 

King Olaf s half-brothers 340 

Thorgny the Lagman 343 

Meeting of Ragnvald and Ingegerd 344 

Ragnvald and Thorgny 346 

The Upsala Thing 348 

Thorgny's Speech 349 

King Hroer s Treachery 352 

Concerning Little Fin 354 

Murder of Olaf's Court-men. , . , '. !s55 






IN this book I have had old stories written down, as 
I have heard them told by intelligent people, concerning 
chiefs who have held dominion in the northern countries, 
and who spoke the Danish tongue; and also concerning 
some of their family branches, according to what has been 
told me. Some of this is found in ancient family regis- 
ters, in which the pedigrees of kings and other personages 
of high birth are reckoned up, and part is written down 
after old songs and ballads which our forefathers had for 
their amusement. Now, although we cannot just say 
what truth there may be in these, yet we have the cer- 
tainty that old and wise men held them to be true. 

Thjodolf of Hvin was the skald of Harald Harfager, 
and he composed a poem for King Rognvald the Moun- 
tain-high, which is called "Ynglingatal." This Rognvald 
was a son of Olaf Geirstadaalf , the brother of King Half- 
dan the Black. In this poem thirty of his forefathers are 


reckoned up, and the death and burial-place of each are 
given. He begins with Fjolner, a son of Yngvefrey, 
whom' the Swedes, long after his time, worshipped and 
sacrificed to, and from whom the race or family of the 
Ynglings take their name. 

Eyvind Skaldaspiller also reckoned up the ancestors of 
Earl Hakon the Great in a poem called "Haleygjatal," 
composed about Hakon ; and therein he mentions Saeming, 
a son of Yngvefrey, and he likewise tells of the death 
and funeral rites of each. The lives and times of the 
Yngling race were written from Thjodolf s relation en- 
larged afterwards by the accounts of intelligent people. 

As to funeral rites, the earliest age is called the Age 
of Burning; because all the dead were consumed by fire, 
and over their ashes were raised standing stones. But 
after Frey was buried under a cairn at Upsala, many 
chiefs raised cairns, as commonly as stones, to the mem- 
ory of their relatives. 

The Age of Cairns began properly in Denmark after 
Dan Milkillate had raised for himself a burial-cairn, and 
ordered that he should be buried in it on his death, with 
his royal ornaments and armour, his horse and saddle- 
furniture, and other valuable goods; and many of his 
descendants followed his example. But the burning of 
the dead continued, long after that time, to be the cus- 
tom of the Swedes and Northmen. Iceland was occu- 
pied in the time that Harald Harfager was the King of 
Norway. There were skalds in Harald's court whose 
poems the people know by heart even at the present day, 
together with all the songs about the kings who have 


ruled in Norway since his time ; and we rest the founda- 
tions of our story principally upon the songs which were 
sung in the presence of the chiefs themselves or of their 
sons, and take all to be true that is found in such poems 
about their feats and battles: for. although it be the 
fashion with skalds to praise most those in whose pres- 
ence they are standing, yet no one would dare to relate 
to a chief what he, and all those who heard it, knew to 
be a false and imaginary, not a true account of his deeds ; 
because that would be mockery, not praise. 


The priest Are Frode (the learned), a son of Thorgils 
the son of Geller, was the first man in this country who 
wrote down in the Norse language narratives of events 
both old and new. In the beginning of his book he 
wrote principally about the first settlements in Iceland, 
the laws and government, and next of the lagmen, and 
how long each had administered the law; and he reck- 
oned the years at first, until the time when Christianity 
was introduced into Iceland, and afterwards reckoned 
from that to his own times. To this he added many 
other subjects, such as the lives and times of kings of 
Norway and Denmark, and also of England; besides 
accounts of great events which have taken place in this 
country itself. His narratives are considered by many 
men of knowledge to be the most remarkable of all ; be- 
cause he was a man of good understanding, and so old 
that his birth was as far back as the year after Harald 


Sigurdson's fall. He wrote, as he himself says, the lives 
and times of the kings of Norway from the report of Od 
Kolson, a grandson of Hal of Sida. Od again took 
his information from Thorgeir Afradskol, who was an 
intelligent man, and so old that when Earl Hakon the 
Great was killed he was dwelling at Nidarnes the same 
place at which King Olaf Trygvason afterwards laid 
the foundation of the merchant town of Nidaros (i. e. 
Throndhjem) which is now there. The priest Are came, 
when seven years old, to Haukadal to Hal Thorarinson, 
and was there fourteen years. Hal was a man of great 
knowledge and of excellent memory; and he could even 
remember being baptized, when he was three years old, 
by the priest Thangbrand, the year before Christianity 
was established by law in Iceland. Are was twelve years 
of age when Bishop Isleif died, and at his death eighty 
years had elapsed since the fall of Olaf Trygvason. Hal 
died nine years later than Bishop Isleif, and had attained 
nearly the age of ninety-four years. Hal had traded be- 
tween the two countries, and had enjoyed intercourse 
with King Olaf the Saint, by which he had gained greatly 
in reputation, and he had become well acquainted with 
the kingdom of Norway. He had fixed his residence in 
Haukadal when he was thirty years of age, and he had 
dwelt there sixty-four years, as Are tells us. Teit, a son 
of Bishop Isleif, was fostered in the house of Hal at 
Haukadal, and afterwards dwelt there himself. He 
taught Are the priest, and gave him information about 
many circumstances which Are afterwards wrote down. 
Are also got many a piece of information from Thurid, 


a daughter of the gode Snorre. She was wise and intel- 
ligent, and remembered her father Snorre, who was 
nearly thirty-five years of age when Christianity was in- 
troduced into Iceland, and died a year after King Olaf 
the Saint's fall. So it is not wonderful that Are the 
priest had good information about ancient events both 
here in Iceland, and abroad, being a man anxious for in- 
formation, intelligent and of excellent memory, and hav- 
ing besides learned much from old intelligent persons. 
But the songs seem to me most reliable if they are sung 
correctly, and judiciously interpreted. 



Of this saga there are other versions found in Fagrskinna 
and in Flateyjarbok. The Flateyjarbok version is to a great 
extent a copy of Snorre. The story about Halfdan's dream is 
found both in Fagrskinna and in Flateyjarbok. The probability 
is that both Snorre and the author of Fagrskinna must have 
transcribed the same original text. Ed. 


HAI.FDAN was a year old when his father was killed, 
and his mother Asa set off immediately with him west- 
wards to Agder, and set herself there in the kingdom 
which her father Harald had possessed. Halfdan grew 
up there, and soon became stout and strong; and, by 
reason of his black hair, was called Halfdan the Black. 
When he was eighteen years old he took his kingdom in 
Agder, and went immediately to Vestfold, where he di- 
vided that kingdom, as before related, with his brother 
Olaf. The same autumn he went with an army to Vin- 
gulmark against King Gandalf. They had many battles, 
and sometimes one, sometimes the other gained the vic- 
tory; but at last they agreed that Halfdan should have 
half of Vingulmark, as his father Gudrod had had it 
before. Then King Halfdan proceeded to Raumarike, 
and subdued it. King Sigtryg, son of King Eystein, who 
then had his residence in Hedemark, and who had sub- 


clued Raumarike before, having heard of this, came out 
with his army against King Halfdan, and there was a 
great battle, in which King Halfdan was victorious ; and 
just as King Sigtryg and his troops were turning about 
to fly, an arrow struck him under the left arm, and he 
fell dead. Halfdan then laid the whole of Raumarike 
under his power. King Eystein's second son, King 
Sigtryg's brother, was also called Eystein, and was then 
king in Hedemark. As soon as Halfdan had returned to 
Vestfold, King Eystein went out with his army to Rau- 
marike, and laid the whole country in subjection to him. 


When King Halfdan heard of these disturbances in 
Raumarike, he again gathered his army together; and 
went out against King Eystein. A battle took place be- 
tween them, and Halfdan gained the victory, and Eystein 
fled up to Hedemark, pursued by Halfdan. Another 
battle took place, in which Halfdan was again victorious ; 
and Eystein fled northwards, up into the Dales to the 
herse Gudbrand. There he was strengthened with new peo- 
ple, and in winter he went towards Hedemark, and met 
Halfdan the Black upon a large island which lies in the 
Mjosen lake. There a great battle was fought, and 
many people on both sides were slain, but Halfdan 
won the victory. There fell Guthorm, the son of the 
herse Gudbrand, who was one of the finest men in the 
Uplands. Then Eystein fled north up the valley, and 
sent his relation Halvard Skalk to King Halfdan to beg 


for peace. On consideration of their relationship, King 
Halfdan gave King Eystein half of Hedemark, which he 
and his relations had held before; but kept to himself 
Thoten, and the district called Land. He likewise ap- 
propriated to himself Hadeland, and thus became a mighty 


Halfdan the Black got a wife called Ragnhild, a 
daughter of Harald Gulskeg (Goldbeard), who was a 
king in Sogn. They had a son, to whom Harald gave 
his own name; and the boy was brought up in Sogn, by 
his mother's father, King Harald. Now when this Har- 
ald had lived out his days nearly, and was become weak, 
having no son, he gave his dominions to his daughter's 
son Harald, and gave him his title of king; and he died 
soon after. The same winter his daughter Ragnhild 
died ; and the following spring the young Harald fell sick, 
and died at ten years of age. As soon as Halfdan the 
Black heard of his son's death, he took the road north- 
wards to Sogn with a great force, and was well received. 
He claimed the heritage and dominion after his son ; and 
no opposition being made, he took the whole kingdom. 
Earl Atle Mjove (the Slender), who was a friend of King 
Halfdan, came to him from Gaular; and the king set 
him over the Sogn district, to judge in the country ac- 
cording to the country's laws, and collect scat upon the 
king's account. Thereafter King Halfdan proceeded to 
his kingdom in the Uplands. 




In autumn, King Halfdan proceeded to Vingulmark. 
One night when he was there in guest quarters, it hap- 
pened that about midnight a man came to him who had 
been on the watch on horseback, and told him a war force 
was come near to the house. The king instantly got up, 
ordered his men to arm themselves, and went out of the 
house and drew them up in battle order. At the same 
moment, Gandalf's sons, Hysing and Helsing, made their 
appearance with a large army. There was a great battle ; 
but Halfdan being overpowered by the numbers of people, 
fled to the forest, leaving many of his men on this spot. 
His foster-father, Olver Spake (the Wise), fell here. 
The people now came in swarms to King Halfdan, and 
he advanced to seek Gandalf's sons. They met at Eid, 
near Lake Oieren, and fought there. Hysing and Helsing 
fell, and their brother Hake saved himself by flight. 
King Halfdan then took possession of the whole of Vin- 
gulmark, and Hake fled to Alfheimar. 


Sigurd Hjort was the name of a king in Ringerike, 
who was stouter and stronger than any other man, and his 
equal could not be seen for a handsome appearance. His 
father was Helge Hvasse (the Sharp) ; and his mother 
was Aslaug, a daughter of Sigurd the worm-eyed, who 
again was a son of Ragnar Lodbrok. It is told of Sigurd 
that when he was only twelve years old he killed in single 


combat the berserk Hildebrand, and eleven others of his 
comrades ; and many are the deeds of manhood told of 
him in a long saga about his feats. Sigurd had two chil- 
dren, one of whom was a daughter, called Ragnhild, then 
twenty years of age, and an excellent brisk girl. Her 
brother Guthorm was a youth. It is related in regard to 
Sigurd's death that he had a custom of riding out quite 
alone in the uninhabited forest to hunt the wild beasts 
that are hurtful to man, and he was always very eager 
at this sport. One day he rode out into the forest as 
usual, and when he had ridden a long way he came out at 
a piece of cleared land near to Hadeland. There the 
berserk Hake came against him with thirty men, and they 
fought. Sigurd Hjort fell there, after killing twelve of 
Hake's men; and Hake himself lost one hand, and had 
three other wounds. Then Hake and his men rode to 
Sigurd's house, where they took his daughter Ragnhild 
and her brother Guthorm, and carried them, with much 
property and valuable articles, home to Hadeland, where 
Hake had many great farms. He ordered a feast to be 
prepared, intending to hold his wedding with Ragnhild ; 
but the time passed on account of his wounds, which 
healed slowly ; and the berserk Hake of Hadeland had to 
keep his bed, on account of his wounds, all the autumn 
and beginning of winter. Now King Halfdan was in 
Hedemark at the Yule entertainments when he heard this 
news; and one morning early, when the king was dressed, 
he called to him Harek Gand, and told him to go over to 
Hadeland, and bring him Ragnhild, Sigurd Hjorfs 
daughter. Harek got ready with a hundred men, and 



made his journey so that they came over the lake to 
Hake's house in the grey of the morning, and beset all 
the doors and stairs of the places where the house-ser- 
vants slept. Then they broke into the sleeping-room 
where Hake slept, took Ragnhild, with her brother Gut- 
horm, and all the goods that were there, and set fire to the 
house-servants' place, and burnt all the people in it. Then 
they covered over a magnificent waggon, placed Ragn- 
hild and Guthorm in it, and drove down upon the ice. 
Hake got up and went after them a while ; but when he 
came to the ice on the lake, he turned his sword-hilt to 
the ground and let himself fall upon the point, so that 
the sword went through him. He was buried under a 
mound on the banks of the lake. When King Halfdan, 
who was very quick of sight, saw the party returning 
over the frozen lake, and with a covered waggon, he 
knew that their errand was accomplished according to his 
desire. Thereupon he ordered the tables to be set out, 
and sent people all round in the neighbourhood to invite 
plenty of guests ; and the same day there was a good feast 
which was also Halfdan's marriage-feast with Ragnhild, 
who became a great queen. Ragnhild's mother was 
Thorny, a daughter of Klakharald king in Jutland, and 
a sister of Thrye Dannebod who was married to the 
Danish king, Gorm the Old, who then ruled over the 
Danish dominions. 


Ragnhild, who was wise and intelligent, dreamt great 
dreams. She dreamt, for one, that she was standing out 



ill her herb-garden, and she took a thorn out of her shift; 
but while she was holding the thorn in her hand it grew 
so that it became a great tree, one end of which struck 
itself down into the earth, and it became firmly rooted ; 
and the other end of the tree raised itself so high in the 
air that she could scarcely see over it, and it became also 
wonderfully thick. The under part of the tree was red 
with blood, but the stem upwards was beautifully green, 
and the branches white as snow. There were many and 
great limbs to the tree, some high up, others low down; 
and so vast were the tree's branches that they seemed to 
her to cover all Norway, and even much more. 


King Halfdan never had dreams, which appeared to 
him an extraordinary circumstance; and he told it to a 
man called Thorleif Spake (the Wise), and asked him 
what his advice was about it. Thorleif said that what he 
himself did, when he wanted to have any revelation by 
dream, was to take his sleep in a swine-sty, and then it 
never failed that he had dreams. The king did so, and 
the following dream was revealed to him.. He thought 
he had the most beautiful hair, which was all in ringlets ; 
some so long as to fall upon the ground, some reaching to 
the middle of his legs, some to his knees, some to his 
loins or the middle of his sides, some to his neck, and some 
were only as knots springing from his head. These ring- 
lets were of various colours ; but one ringlet surpassed all 
the others in beauty, lustre, and size. This dream he 



told to Thorleif, who interpreted it thus : There should 
be a great posterity from him, and his descendants should 
rule over countries with great, but not all with equally 
great honour ; but one of his race should be more celebra- 
ted than all the others. It was the opinion of people that 
this ringlet betokened King Olaf the Saint. 

King Halfdan was a wise man, a man of truth and up- 
rightness^ who made laws, observed them himself, and 
obliged others to observe them. And that violence should 
not come in place of the laws, he himself fixed the number 
of criminal acts in law, and the compensations, mulcts, or 
penalties, for each case, according to every one's birth and 
dignity. 1 

Queen Ragnhild gave birth to a son, and water was 
poured over him, and the name of Harald given him, and 
he soon grew stout and remarkably handsome. As he 
grew up he became very expert at all feats, and showed 
also a good understanding. He was much beloved by his 
mother, but less so by his father. 


King Halfdan was at a Yule-feast in Hadeland, where 
a wonderful thing happened one Yule evening. When 

lr rhe penalty, compensation, or manbod for every injury, due to the 
party injured, or to his family and next of kin if the injury was the 
death or premeditated murder of the party, appears to have been fixed 
for every rank and condition, from the murder of the king down to the 
maiming or beating a man's cattle or his slave. A man for whom no 
compensation was due was a dishonored person, or an outlaw. It appears 
to have been optional with the injured party, or his kin if he had been 
killed, to take the mulct or compensation, or to refuse it, and wait an 
opportunity of taking vengeance for the injury on the party who inflicted 
it, or on his kin. A part of each mulct or compensation was due to the 
king ; and these fines or penalties appear to have constituted a great 
proportion of the king's revenues, and to have been settled in the Things 
held in every district for administering the law with the lagman. L. 



the great number of guests assembled were going to sit 
down to table, all the meat and all the ale disappeared 
from the table. The king sat alone very confused in 
mind ; all the others set off, each to his home, in conster- 
nation. That the king might come to some certainty 
about what had occasioned this event, he ordered a Fin 
to be seized who was particularly knowing, and tried to 
force him to disclose the truth ; but however much he tor- 
tured the man, he got nothing out of him. The Fin 
sought help particularly from Harald, the king's son, and 
Harald begged for mercy for him, but in vain. Then 
Harald let him escape against the king's will, and accom- 
panied the man himself. On their journey they came 
to a place where the man's chief had a great feast, and it 
appears they were well received there. When they had 
been there until spring, the chief said, "Thy father took it 
much amiss that in winter I took some provisions from 
him, now I will repay it to thee by a. joyful piece of 
news : thy father is dead ; and now thou shalt return home, 
and take possession of the whole kingdom which he had, 
and with it thou shalt lay the whole kingdom o>f Norway 
under thee." 


Halfdan the Black was driving from a feast in Hade- 
land, and it so happened that his road lay over the lake 
called Rand. It was in spring, and there was a great 
thaw. They drove across the bight called Rykinsvik, 
where in winter there had been a pond broken in the ice 



for cattle to drink at, and where the dung had fallen upon 
the ice the thaw had eaten it into holes. Now as the 
king drove over it the ice broke, and King Halfdan and 
many with him perished. He was then forty years old. 
He had been one of the most fortunate kings in respect of 
good seasons. The people thought so much of him, that 
when his death was known and his body was floated to 
Ringerike to bury it there, the people of most conse- 
quence from Raumarike, Vestfold, and Hedemark came to 
meet it. All desired to take the body with them to bury 
it in their own district, and they thought that those who 
got it would have good crops to expect. At last it was 
agreed to divide the body into four parts. The head was 
laid in a mound at Stein in Ringerike, and each of the 
others took his part home and laid it in a mound ; and these 
have since been called Halfdan's Mounds. 



Harald 1 was but ten years old when he succeeded his 
father (Half dan the Black). He became a stout, strong, 
and comely man, and withal prudent and manly. His 
mother's brother, Guthorm, was leader of the hird, at the 
head of the government, and commander (hertogi) of 
the army. After Halfdan the Black's death, many chiefs 
coveted the dominions he had left. Among these King 
Gandalf was the first; then Hogne and Frode, sons of 
Eystein, king of Hedemark; and also Hogne Karuson 
came from Ringer ike. Hake, the son of Gandalf, be- 
gan with an expedition of 300 men against Vestfold, 
marched by the main road through some valleys, and ex- 
pected to come suddenly upon King Harald; while his 
father Gandalf sat at home with his army, and prepared 
to cross over the fiord into Vestfold. When Duke Guth- 
orm heard of this he gathered an army, and marched 
'up the country with King Harald against Hake. 
They met in a valley, in which they fought a great 
battle, and King Harald was victorious; and there 

*The first twenty chapters of this saga refer to Harald's youth and 
his conquest of Norway. This portion of the saga is of great importance 
to the Icelanders, as the settlement of their isle was a result of Harald's 
wars. The second part of the saga (chaps. 21-46) treats of the disputes 
between Harald's sons, of the jarls of Orkney, and of the jarls of More. 
With this saga we enter the domain of history. Ed. 


fell King Hake and most of his people. The place has 
since been called Hakadale. Then King Harald and 
Duke Guthorm turned back, but they found King Gan- 
dalf had come to Vestfold. The two armies marched 
against each other, and met, and had a great battle; and 
it ended in King Gandalf flying, after leaving most of his 
men dead on the spot, and in that state he came back to 
his kingdom. Now when the sons of King Eystein in 
Hedemark heard the news, they expected the war would 
come upon them, and they sent a message to Hogne 
Karuson and to Herse Gudbrand, and appointed a meeting 
with them at Ringsaker in Hedemark. 


After the battle King Harald and Guthorm turned 
back, and went with all the men they could gather through 
the forests towards the Uplands. They found out where 
the Upland kings had appointed their meeting-place, and 
came there about the time of midnight, without the watch- 
men observing them until their army was before the door 
of the house in which Hogne Karuson was, as well as that 
in which Gudbrand slept. They set fire to both houses; 
but King Eystein's two sons slipped out with their men, 
and fought for a while, until both Hogne and Frode fell. 
After the fall of these four chiefs, King Harald, by his 
relation Guthorm's success and powers, subdued Hede- 
mark, Ringerike, Gudbrandsdal, Hadeland, Thoten, 
Raumarike, and the whole northern part of Vingulmark. 
King Harald and Guthorm had thereafter war with King 



Gandalf, and fought several battles with him ; and in the 
last of them King Gandalf was slain, and King Harald 
took the whole of his kingdom as far south as the river 


King Harald sent his men to a girl called Gyda, a 
daughter of King Eirik of Hordaland, who was brought 
up as foster-child in the house of a great bonde in Valdres. 
The king wanted her for his concubine ; for she was a re- 
markably handsome girl, but of high spirit withal. Now 
when the messengers came there, and delivered their er- 
rand to the girl, she answered, that she would not throw 
herself away even to take a king for her husband, who 
had no greater kindom to rule over than a few districts. 
"And methinks," said she, "it is wonderful that no king 
here in Norway will make the whole country subject to 
him, in the same way as Gorm the Old did in Denmark, 
or Eirik at Upsala," The messengers thought her an- 
swer was dreadfully haughty, and asked what she thought 
would come of such an answer ; for Harald was so mighty 
a man, that his invitation was good enough, for her. But 
although she had replied to their errand differently from 
what they wished, they saw no chance, on this occasion, of 
taking her with them against her will; so they prepared 
to return. When they were ready, and the people followed 
them out, Gyda said to the messengers, "Now tell to King 
Harald these my words. I will only agree to be his lawful 
wife upon the condition that he shall first, for my sake, 



subject to himself the whole of Norway, so that he may 
rule over that kingdom as freely and fully as King Eirik 
over the Swedish dominions, or King Go-rm over Den- 
mark ; for only then, methinks, can he be called the king 
of a people." 


Now came the messengers back to King Harald, bring- 
ing him the words of the girl, and saying she was so bold 
and foolish that she well deserved that the king should 
send a greater troop of people for her, and inflict on her 
some disgrace. Then answered the king, "This girl has 
not spoken or done so- much amiss that she should be pun- 
ished, but rather she should be thanked for her words. 
She has reminded me," said he, "of something which it 
appears to me wonderful I did not think of before. And 
now," added he, "I make the solemn vow, and take God 
to witness, who made me and rules over all things, that 
never shall I clip or comb my hair until I have subdued 
the whole of Norway, with scat, 1 and duties, and domains ; 
or if not, have died in the attempt." Guthorm thanked the 
king warmly for his vow ; adding, that it was royal work 
to fulfil royal words. 


After this the two relations gather together a great 
force, and prepare for an expedition to the Uplands, and 
northwards up the valley (Gudbrandsdal), and north 

*Scat was a land-tax, paid to the king in money, malt, meal, or 
flesh-meat, from all lands ; and was adjudged by the Thing to each king 
upon his accession, and being proposed and accepted as king. 



over Dovrefjeld; and when the king came down to the in- 
habited land he ordered all the men to be killed, and 
everything wide around to be delivered to the flames. 
And when the people came to know this, they fled every 
one where he could; some down the country to Orkadal, 
some to Gaulardal, some to the forests. But some beg- 
ged for peace, and obtained it, on condition of joining the 
king and becoming his men. He met no opposition until 
he came to Orkadal. There a crowd of people had as- 
sembled, and he had his first battle with a king called 
Gryting. Harald won the victory, and King Gryting 
was made prisoner, and most of his people killed. He 
took service himself under the king, and swore fidelity to 
him. Thereafter all the people in Orkadal district went 
under King Harald, and became his men. 


King Harald made this law over all the lands he con- 
quered, that all the udal property should belong to him,; 
and that the bondes, both great and small, should pay him 
land dues for their possessions. Over every district he 
set an earl to judge according to the law of the land and 
to justice, and also to collect the land dues and the fines ; 
and for this each earl received a third part of the dues, and 
services, and fines, for the support of his table and other 
expenses. Each earl had under him four or more herses, 
each of whom had an estate of twenty marks yearly in- 
come bestowed on him and was bound to support twenty 
men-at-arms, and the earl sixty men, at their own ex- 



penses. The king had increased the land dues and burdens 
so much, that each of his earls had greater power and 
income than the kings had before ; and when that became 
known at Throndhjem, many great men joined the king, 
and took his service. 


It is told that Earl Hakon Grjotgardson came to King 
Harald from Yrjar, and brought a great crowd of men 
to his service. Then King Harald went into Gaulardal, 
and had a great battle, in which he slew two kings, and 
conquered their dominions ; and these were Gaulardal dis- 
trict and Strind district. He gave Earl Hakon Strind 
district to rule over as earl. King Harald then pro- 
ceeded to Stjoradal, and had a third battle, in which he 
gained the victory, and took that district also. There- 
upon the Throndhjem people assembled, and four kings 
met together with their troops. The one ruled over Ver- 
adal, the second over Skaun, third over the Sparbyggja 
district, and the fourth over Eyin Idre (Inderoen) ; and 
this latter had also Eyna district. These four kings 
marched with their men against King Harald, but he 
won the battle; and some of these kings fell, and some 
fled. In all, King Harald fought at the least eight bat- 
tles, and slew eight kings, in the Throndhjem district, 
and laid the whole of it under him. 


North in Naumudal were two brothers, kings, Her- 



laug and Hrollaug; and they had been for three summers 
raising a mound or tomb of stone and lime and of wood. 
Just as the work was finished, the brothers got the news 
that King Harald was coming upon them, with his army. 
Then King Herlaug had a great quantity of meat and 
drink brought into the mound, and went into it himself, 
with eleven companions, and ordered the mound to be 
covered up. King Hrollaug, on the contrary, went upon 
the summit of the mound, on which the kings were wont 
to sit, and made a throne to be erected, upon which he 
seated himself. Then he ordered feather-beds to be laid 
upon the bench below, on which the earls were wont to 
be seated, and threw himself down from his high seat or 
throne into the earl's seat, giving himself the title of earl. 
Now Hrollaug went to meet King Harald, gave up to him 
his whole kingdom, offered to enter into his service, and 
told him his whole proceeding. Then took King Harald a 
sword, fastened it to Hrollaug's belt, bound a shield to 
his neck, and made him thereupon an earl, and led him to 
his earl's seat; and therewith gave him the district of 
Naumudal, and set him as earl over it. (866). 1 


King Harald then returned to Throndhjem, where he 
dwelt during the winter, and always afterwards called 
it his home. He fixed here his head residence, which is 

W r lti ? g 1 wa f in general use, this symbolical way of perform- 

< - 

fairest c?S? s . Eld W&S sufScient to annul the substance of the 



called Lade. This winter he took to wife Asa, a 
daughter of Earl Hakon Grjotgardson, who then stood 
in great favour and honour with the king. In spring the 
king fitted out his ships. In winter he had caused a great 
frigate (a dragon) to be built, and had it fitted out in 
the most splendid way, and brought his house-troops and 
his berserks on board. The forecastle men were picked 
men, for they had the king's banner. From the stem to 
the mid-hold was called rausn, or the fore-defence; and 
there were the berserks. Such men only were received 
into King Harald's house-troop as were remarkable for 
strength, courage, and all kinds of dexterity; and they 
alone got place in his ship, for he had a good choice of 
house-troops from the best men of every district. King 
Harald had a great army, many large ships, and many 
men of might followed him. Hornklofe, in his poem 
called "Glymdrapa," tells of this; and also that King Har- 
ald had a battle with the people of Orkadal, at Opdal for- 
est, before he went upon this expedition. 

"O'er the broad heath the bowstrings 


While high in air the arrows sang ; 
The iron shower drives to flight 
The foeman from the bloody fight. 
The warder of great Odin's shrine, 
The fair-haired son of Odin's line, 
Raises the voice which gives the 


First in the track of wolf or bear. 
His master voice drives them along 
To Hel a destined, t r em b 1 i n g 

throng ; 
And Nokve'a ship, with glancing 


Must fly to the wild ocean's tides, 
Must fly before the king who leads 
Norse axe-men on their ocean steeds." 


King Harald moved out with his army from Thrond- 
hjem, and went southwards to More. Hunthiof was the 
name of the king who ruled over the district of More. 


Solve Klofe was the name of his son, and both were great 
warriors. King Nokve, who ruled over Raumsdal, was 
the brother of Solve's mother. Those chiefs gathered a 
great force when they heard of King Harald, and came 
against him. They met at Solskel, and there was a 
great battle, which was gained by King Harald (A. D. 
867). Hornklofe tells of this battle: 

"Thus did the hero known to fame, Two kings he fought ; but little strife 

The leader of the shields, whose name Was needed to cut short their life. 

Strikes every heart with dire dismay, A clang of arms by the sea-shore, 

Launch forth his war-ships to the And the shields' sound was heard no 
fray. more." 

The two kings were slain, but Solve escaped by flight ; 
and King Harald laid both districts under his power. 
He stayed here long in summer to establish law and order 
for the country people, and set men to rule them, and 
keep them faithful to him; and in autumn he prepared to 
return northwards to Throndhjem. Ragnvald Earl of 
More, a son of Eystein Glumra, had the summer before 
become one of Harald's men; and the king set him as 
chief over these two districts, North More and Raumsdal ; 
strengthened him both with men of might and bondes, 
and gave him the help of ships to defend the coast against 
enemies. He was called Ragnvald the Mighty, or the 
Wise; and people say both names suited well. King 
Harald came back to Throndhjem about winter. 


The following spring (A. D. 868) King Harald raised 
a great force in Throndhjem, and gave out that he would 
proceed to South More. Solve Klofe had passed the 



winter in his ships of war, plundering in North More, and 
had killed many of King Harald's men; pillaging some 
places, burning others, and making great ravage; but 
sometimes he had been, during the winter, with his friend 
King Arnvid in South More. Now when he heard that 
King Harald was come with ships and a great army, he 
gathered people, and was strong in men-at-arms; for 
many thought they had to take vengeance of King Harald. 
Solve Klofe went southwards to Firdafylke (the Fjord 
district), which King Audbjorn ruled over, to ask him to 
help, and join his force to King Arnvid's and his own. 
"For," said he, "it is now clear that we all have but one 
course to take ; and that is to rise, all as one man, against 
King Harald, for we have strength enough, and fate must 
decide the victory; for as to the other condition of be- 
coming his servants, that is no condition for us, who are 
not less noble than Harald. My father thought it better 
to fall in battle for his kingdom, than to go willingly 
into King Harald's service, or not to abide the chance of 
weapons like the Naumudal kings." King Solve's 
speech was such that King Audbjorn promised his help, 
and gathered a great force together and went with it to 
King Arnvid, and they had a great army. Now, they 
got news that King Harald was come from the north, 
and they met within Solskel. And it was the custom 
to lash the ships together, stem to stem; so it was done 
now. King Harald laid his ship against King Arnvid's, 
and there was the sharpest fight, and many men fell on 
both sides. At last King Harald was raging with anger, 
and went forward to the fore-deck, and slew so dread- 



fully that all the forecastle men of Arnvid's ship were 
driven aft of the mast, and some fell. Thereupon Harald 
boarded the ship, and King Arnvid's men tried to save 
themselves by flight, and he himself was slain in his ship. 
King Audbjorn also fell; but Solve fled. So says Horn- 

"Against the hero's shield in vain And high above the dinning stound 

The arrow-storm fierce pours its rain. Of helm and axe, and ringing sound 

The king stands on the blood-stained Of blade and shield, and raven's cry, 

deck, Is heard his shout of 'Victory !' " 
Trampling on many a stout foe's 


Of King Harald's men, fell his earls Asgaut and As- 
bjorn, together with his brothers-in-law, Grjotgard and 
Herlaug, the sons of Earl Hakon of Lade. Solve became 
afterwards a great sea-king, and often did great damage 
in King Harald's dominions. 


After this battle (A. D. 868) King Harald subdued 
South More; but Vemund, King Audbjorn's brother, still 
had Firdafylke. It was now late in harvest, and King 
Harald's men gave him the counsel not to proceed south- 
wards round Stad. Then King Harald set Earl Ragn- 
vald over South and North More and also Raumsdal, 
and he had many people about him. King Harald re- 
turned to Throndhjem. The same winter (A. D. 869) 
Ragnvald went over Eid, and southwards to the Fjord 
district. There he heard news of King Vemund, and 
came by night to a place called Naustdal, where King 
Vemund was living in guest-quarters. Earl Ragnvald 
surrounded the house in which they were quartered, and 



burnt the king in it, together with ninety men. Then 
came Berdlukare to Earl Ragnvald with a completely 
armed long-ship, and they both returned to More. The 
earl took all the ships Vemund had, and all the goods he 
could get hold of. Berdlukare proceeded north to 
Throndhjem to King Harald, and became his man; and a 
dreadful berserk he was. 


The following spring (869) King Harald went south- 
wards with his fleet along the coast, and subdued Firda- 
fylke. Then he sailed eastward along the land until he 
came to Vik; but he left Earl Hakon Grjotgardson be- 
hind, and set him over the Fjord district. Earl Hakon 
sent word to Earl Atle Mjove that he should leave Sogn 
district, and be earl over Gaular district, as he had been 
before, alleging that King Harald had given Sogn district 
to him. Earl Atle sent word that he would keep both 
Sogn district and Gaular district, until he met King 
Harald. The two earls quarreled about this so long, that 
both gathered troops. They met at Fialar, in Stavanger 
fiord, and had a great battle, in which Earl Hakon fell, 
and Earl Atle got a mortal wound, and his men carried 
him to the island of Atley, where he died. So says 
Eyvind Skaldaspiller : 

"He who stood a rooted oak, The waves are stained with the red 
Unshaken by the swordsman's stroke, gore 

Amidst the whiz of arrows slain, Of stout Earl Hakon Grjotgard's son, 

Has fallen upon Fjalar's plain. And of brave warriors many a one." 
There, by the ocean's rocky shore. 


King Harald came with his fleet eastward to Viken 
and landed at Tunsberg, which was then a trading town. 
He had then been four years in Throndhjeni, and in all 
that time had not been in Viken. Here he heard the news 
that Eirik Eymundson, king of Sweden, had laid under 
him Vermaland, and was taking scat or land-tax from all 
the forest settlers ; and also that he called the whole coun- 
try north to Svinasund, and west along the sea, West 
Gautland ; and which altogether he reckoned to his king- 
dom, and took land-tax from it. Over this country he 
had set an earl, by name Hrane Gauzke, who had the 
earldom between Svinasund and the Gaut river, and was 
a mighty earl. And it was told to King Harald that the 
Swedish king said he would not rest until he had as great 
a kingdom in Viken as Sigurd Hring, or his son Ragnar 
Lodbrok, had possessed; and that was Raumarike and 
Vestfold, all the way to the isle Grenmar, and also Vin- 
gulmark, and all that lay south of it. In all these districts 
many chiefs, and many other people, had given obedience 
to the Swedish king. King Harald was very angry at 
this, and summoned the bondes to a Thing at Fold, where 
he laid an accusation against them for treason towards 
him. Some bondes defended themselves from the accu- 
sation, some paid fines, some were punished. He went 
thus through the whole district during the summer, and 
in harvest he did the same in Raumarike, and laid the two 
districts under his power. Towards winter he heard that 
Eirik king of Sweden was, with his court, going about in 
Vermaland in guest-quarters. 



King Harald takes his way across the Eid forest east- 
ward, and comes out in Vermaland, where he also orders 
feasts to be prepared for himself. There was a man by 
name Ake, who was the greatest of the bondes of Verma- 
land, very rich, and at that time very aged. He sent 
men to King Harald, and invited him to a feast, and the 
king promised to come on the day appointed. Ake in- 
vited also King Eirik to a feast, and appointed the same 
day. Ake had a great feasting hall, but it was old ; and 
he made a new hall, not less than the old one, and had it 
ornamented in the most splendid way. The new hall he 
had hung with new hangings, but the old had only its old 
ornaments. Now when the kings came to the feast, King 
Eirik with his court was taken into the old hall ; but Har- 
ald with his followers into the new. The same difference 
was in all the table furniture, and King Eirik and his 
men had the old-fashioned vessels and horns, but all 
gilded and splendid ; while King Harald and his men had 
entirely new vessels and horns adorned with gold, all 
with carved figures, and shining like glass ; and both com- 
panies had the best of liquor. Ake the bonde had for- 
merly been King Halfdan the Black's man. Now when 
daylight came, and the feast was quite ended, and the 
kings made themselves ready for their journey, and the 
horses were saddled, came Ake before King Harald, lead- 
ing in his hand his son Ubbe, a boy of twelve years of 
age, and said, "If the goodwill I have shown to thee, sire, 
in my feast, be worth thy friendship, show it hereafter 



to my son. I give him to thee now for thy service." 
The king thanked him, with many agreeable words for his 
friendly entertainment, and promised him his full friend- 
ship in return. Then Ake brought out great presents, 
which he gave to the king, and they gave each other there- 
after the parting kiss. Ake went next to the Swedish 
king, who was dressed and ready for the road, but not in 
the best humour. Ake gave to him also good and valua- 
ble gifts ; but the king answered only with few words, and 
mounted his horse. Ake followed the king on the road, 
and talked with him. The road led through a wood 
which was near to the house ; and when Ake came to the 
wood, the king said to him, "How was it that thou madest 
such a difference between me and King Harald as to give 
him the best of everything, although thou knowest thou 
art my man?" "I think," answered Ake, "that there 
failed in it nothing, king, either to you or to- your attend- 
ants, in friendly entertainment at this feast. But that all 
the utensils for your drinking were old, was because you 
are now old ; but King Harald is in the bloom of youth, 
and therefore I gave him the new things. And as to my 
being thy man, thou art just as much my man." On this 
the king out with his sword, and gave Ake his death- 
wound. King Harald was ready now also to mount his 
horse, and desired that Ake should be called. The people 
went to seek him ; and some ran up the road that King 
Eirik had taken, and found Ake there dead. They came 
back, and told the news to King Harald, and he bids his 
men to be up, and avenge Ake the bonde. And away 
rode he and his men the way King Eirik had taken, until 



they came in sight of each other. Each for himself rode 
as hard as he could, until Eirik came into the wood which 
divides Gautland and Vermaland. There King Harald 
wheels about, and returns to Vermaland, and lays the 
country under him,, and kills King Eirik's men whereso- 
ever he can find them. In winter King Harald returned 
to Raumarike, and dwelt there a while. 


King Harald went out in winter to his ships at Tuns- 
berg, rigged them, and sailed away eastward over the 
fiord, and subjected all Vingulmark to his dominion. All 
winter he was out with his ships, and marauded in Ran- 
rike; so says Thorbjorn Hornklofe: 

"The Norseman's king is on the sea, The game of the bright sun-god Frey. 

Tho' bitter wintry cold it be, But the soft Swede loves well the fire, 

On the wild waves his Yule keeps he. The well-stuffed couch, the downy 
When our brisk king can get his way, glove, 

He'll no more by the fireside stay And from the hearth-seat will not 
Than the young sun ; he makes us move." 


The Gautlanders gathered people together all over the 


In spring, when the ice was breaking up, the Gaut- 
landers drove stakes into the Gaut river to hinder King 
Harald with his ships from' coming to the land. But 
King Harald laid his ships alongside the stakes, and plun- 
dered the country, and burnt all around; so says Horn- 


"The king, who finds a dainty feast, Harald, whose high-rigged masts 
For battle-bird and prowling beast, appear 

Has won in war the southern land Like antlered fronts of the wild deer, 

That lies along the ocean's strand. Has laid his ships close alongside 

The leader of the helmets, he Of the foe's piles with daring pride." 
Who leads his ships o'er th/a dark sea, 

Afterwards the Gautlanders came down to the strand 
with a great army, and gave battle to King Harald, and 
great was the fall of men. But it was King Harald who 
gained the day. Thus says Hornklofe : 

"Whistles the battle-axe in its swing, Through helm and mail the foemen 
O'er head the whizzing javelins sing, feel 

Helmet and shield and hauberk ring ; The blue edge of our king's good steel. 
The air-song of the lance is loud, Who can withstand our gallant king? 

The arrows pipe in darkening cloud ; The Gautland men their flight must 



King Harald went far and wide through Gautland, and 
many were the battles he fought there on both sides of 
the river, and in general he was victorious. In one of 
these battles fell Hrane Gauzke; and then the king took 
his whole land north of the river and west of the Veneren, 
and also Vermaland. And after he turned back there- 
from, he set Duke Guthorm as chief to defend the coun- 
try, and left a great force with him. King Harald him- 
self went first to the Uplands, where he remained a while, 
and then proceeded northwards over the Dovrefjeld to 
Throndhjem, where he dwelt for a long time. Harald 
began to have children. By Asa he had four sons. The 
eldest was Guthorm. Halfdan the Black and Halfdari 
the White were twins. Sigfrod was the fourth. They 
were all brought up in Throndhjem with all honour. 


News came in from the south land that the people of 
Hordaland and Rogaland, Agder and Thelemark, were 
gathering, and bringing together ships and weapons, and 
a great body of men. The leaders of this were Eirik 
king of Hordaland; Sulke king of Rogaland, and his 
brother Earl Sote ; Kjotve the Rich, king of Agder, and 
his son Thor Haklang; and from Thelemark two broth- 
ers, Hroald Hryg and Had the Hard. Now when Har- 
ald got certain news of this, he assembled his forces, set 
his ships on the water, made himself ready with his men, 
and set out southwards along the coast, gathering many 
people from every district. King Eirik heard of this when 
he same south of Stad ; and having assembled all the men 
he could expect, he proceeded . southwards to meet the 
force which he knew was coming to his help from the 
east. The whole met together north of Jadar, and went 
into Hafersfjord, where King Harald was waiting with 
his forces. A great battle began, which was both hard 
and long ; but at last King Harald gained the day. There 
King Eirik fell, and King Sulke, with his brother Earl 
Sote. Thor Haklang, who was a great berserk, had laid 
his ship against King Harald's, and there was above all 
measure a desperate attack, until Thor Haklang fell, and 
his whole ship was cleared of men. Then King Kjotve 
fled to a little isle outside, on which there was a good 
place of strength. Thereafter all his men fled, some to 
their ships, some up to the land ; and the latter ran south- 
wards over the country of Jadar. So says Hornklofe, 
viz. : 



"Has the news reached you? have 

you heard 

Of the great fight at Hafersf jord, 
Between our noble king brave Harald 
And King Kjotve rich in gold ? 
The foeman came from out the East, 
Keen for the fray as for a feast. 
A gallant sight it was to see 
Their fleet sweep o'er the dark-blue 

Each war-ship, with its threatening 


Of dragon fierce or ravenous brute 1 
Grim gaping from the prow ; its wales 
Glittering with burnished shields, 2 

like scales ; 

Its crew of udal men of war, 
Whose snow-white targets shone 

from far ; 

And many a mailed spearman stout 
From the West countries round about, 
English and Scotch, a foreign host, 
And swordsmen from the far French 


And as the foemen's ships drew near, 
The dreadful din you well might 

hear ; 

Savage berserks roaring mad, 
And champions fierce in wolf- skins 

clad, 3 
Howling like wolves ; and clanking 


Of many a mail-clad man of war. 
Thus the foe came ; but our brave 


Taught them to fly as fast again. 
For when he saw their force come 

He launched his war-ships from the 

shore ; 

On the deep sea he launched his fleet, 
And boldly rowed the foe to meet. 
Fierce was the shock, and loud the 


Of shields, until the fierce Haklang, 
The foeman's famous berserk, fell. 
Then from our men burst forth the 


Of victory ; and the King of Gold 
Could not withstand our Harald bold, 
But fled before his flaky locks 
For shelter to the island rocks. 
All in the bottom of the ships 
The wounded lay, in ghastly heaps ; 
Backs up and faces down they lay, 
Under the row- seats stowed away ; 
And many a warrior's shield, I ween, 
Might on the warrior's back be seen, 
To shield him as he fled amain 
From the fierce stone-storm's pelt- 
ing rain. 

The mountain-folk, as I've heard say, 
Ne'er stopped as they ran from the 


Till they had crossed the Jadar sea, 
And reached their homes so keen 

each soul 
To drown his fright in the mead 



After this battle King Harald met no opposition in 
Norway, for all his opponents and greatest enemies were 
cut off. But some, and they were a great multitude, fled 
out of the country, and thereby great districts were peo- 
pled. Jemtaland and Helsingjaland were peopled then, al- 
though some Norwegians had already set up their habita- 
tion there. In the discontent that King Harald seized 

iThe war-ships were called dragons, from being decorated with the 
head of a dragon, serpent, or other wild animal ; and the word "draco" 
was adopted in the Latin of the Middle Ages to denote a ship of war 
of the larger class. The snekke was the cutter or smaller war-ship. L. 

The shields were hung over the side-rails of the ships. L. 

3 The wolf-skin pelts were nearly as good as armour against the 
sword. L. 



on the lands of Norway, the out-countries of Iceland and 
the Farey Isles were discovered and peopled. The North- 
men had also a great resort to Hjaltland (Shetland Isles) 
and many men left Norway, flying the country on account 
of King Harald, and went on viking cruises into the West 
sea. In winter they were in the Orkney Islands and 
Hebrides; but marauded in summer in Norway, and did 
great damage. Many, however, were the mighty men 
who took service under King Harald, and became his men, 
and dwelt in the land with him. 


When King Harald had now become sole king over all 
Norway, he remembered what that proud girl had said 
to him; so he sent men to her, and had her brought to 
him, and took her to his bed. And these were their chil- 
dren: Alof she was the eldest; then was their son 
Hrorek; then Sigtryg, Frode, and Thorgils. King Harald 
had many wives and many children. Among them he 
had one wife, who was called Ragnhild the Mighty, a 
daughter of King Eirik, from Jutland; and by her he 
had a son, Eirik Blood-axe. He was also married to 
Svanhild, a daughter of Earl Eystein ; and their sons were 
Olaf Geirstadaalf, Bjorn and Ragnar Rykkil. Lastly, 
King Harald married Ashild, a daughter of Hring Dag- 
son, up in Ringerike; and their children were, Dag, 
Hring, Gudrod Skiria, and Ingigerd. It is told that King 
Harald put away nine wives when he married Ragnhild 
the Mighty. So says Hornklofe: 



"Harald, of noblest race the head, Who 'mong Holmryglans hold com- 

A Danish wife took to his bed ; mand, 

And out of doors nine wives he And those who rule in Hordaland. 

thrust, And then he packed from out the 

The mothers of the princes first, place 

The children born of Holge's race." 

King Harald's children were all fostered and brought 
up by their relations on the mother's side. Guthorm the 
Duke had poured water over King Harald's eldest son, 
and had given him his own name. He set the child upon 
his knee, and was his foster-father, and took him with 
himself eastward to Viken, and there he was brought 
up in the house of Guthorm. Guthorm ruled the whole 
land in Viken and the Uplands, when King Harald was 


King Harald heard that the vikings, who were in the 
West sea in winter, plundered far and wide in the middle 
part of Norway; and therefore every summer he made 
an expedition to search the isles and out-skerries 1 on the 
coast. Wheresoever the vikings heard of him they all 
took to flight, and most of them out into the open ocean. 
At last the king grew weary of this work, and therefore 
one summer he sailed with his fleet right out into the 
West sea. First he came to Hjaltland (Shetland), and 
he slew all the vikings who could not save themselves by 
flight. Then King Harald sailed southwards, to the Ork- 
ney Islands, and cleared them all of vikings. Thereafter 
he proceeded to the Sudreys (Hebrides), plundered there, 
and slew many vikings who formerly had had men-at- 
arms under them. Many a battle was fought, and King 

Skerries are the uninhabited dry or half-tide rocks of a coast. L. 



Harald was always victorious. He then plundered far 
and wide in Scotland itself, and had a battle there. When 
he was come westward as far as the Isle of Man, the re- 
port of his exploits on the land had gone before him ; for 
all the inhabitants had fled over to Scotland, and the is- 
land was left entirely bare both of people and goods, so 
that King Harald and his men made no booty when they 
landed. So says Hornklof e : 

"The wise, the noble king, great The wolves soon gathered on the sand 

Harald, Of that s<ea-shore ; for Harald's hand 

Whose hand so freely scatters gold, The Scottish army drove away, 

Led many a northern shield to war And on the coast left wolves a prey." 
Against the town upon the shore. 

In this war fell Ivar, a son of Ragnvald, Earl of More ; 
and King Harald gave Ragnvald, as a compensation for 
the loss, the Orkney and Shetland isles, when he sailed 
from the West; but Ragnvald immediately gave both 
these countries to his brother Sigurd, who remained be' 
hind them; and King Harald, before sailing eastward, 
gave Sigurd the earldom of them. Thorstein the Red, a 
son of Olaf the White and of Aud the Wealthy, entered 
into partnership with him ; and after plundering in Scot- 
land, they subdued Caithness and Sutherland, as far as 
Ekkjalsbakke. Earl Sigurd killed Melbridge Tooth, a 
Scotch earl, and hung his head to his stirrup-leather ; but 
the calf of his leg were scratched by the teeth, which were 
sticking out from the head, and the wound caused inflam- 
mation in his leg, of which the earl died, and he was laid 
in a mound at Ekkjalsbakke. His son Guthorm ruled 
over these countries for about a year thereafter, and died 
without children. Many vikings, both Danes and North- 
men, set themselves down then in those countries. 



After King Harald had subdued the whole land, he 
was one day at a feast in More, given by Earl Ragnvald. 
Then King Harald went into a bath, and had his hair 
dressed. Earl Ragnvald now cut his hair, which had 
been uncut and uncombed for ten years ; and therefore the 
king had been called Lufa (i. e., with rough matted hair). 
But then Earl Ragnvald gave him the distinguishing 
name Harald Harfager (i. e., fair hair) ; and all who 
saw him agreed that there was the greatest truth in that 
surname, for he had the most beautiful and abundant 
head of hair. 


Earl Ragnvald was King Harald's dearest friend, and 
the king had the greatest regard for him. He was mar- 
ried to Hild, a daughter of Rolf Nefia, and their sons 
were Rolf and Thorer. Earl Ragnvald had also three 
sons by concubines, the one called Hallad, the second 
Einar, the third Hrollaug; and all three were grown men 
when their brothers born in marriage were still children. 
Rolf became a great viking, and was of so stout a growth 
that no horse could carry him, and wheresoever he went 
he must go on foot; and therefore he was called Rolf 
Ganger. He plundered much in the East sea. One sum- 
mer, as he was coming from the eastward on a viking's 
expedition to the coast of Viken, he landed there and 
made a cattle foray. As King Harald happened, just at 
that time, to be in Viken, he heard of it, and was in a 



great rage; for he had forbid, by the greatest punish- 
ment, the plundering within the bounds of the country. 
The king assembled a Thing, and had Rolf declared an 
outlaw over all Norway. When Rolf's mother, Hild, 
heard of it she hastened to the king, and entreated peace 
for Rolf; but the king was so enraged that here en- 
treaty was of no avail. Then Hild spake these lines : 

"Think'st thou, King Harald, in thy 

To drive away my brave Rolf Gan- 

Like a mad wolf, from out the land? 

Why, Harald, raiaie thy mighty hand? 

Why banish Nefia's gallant name-son, 

The brother of brave udal-men? 
Why is thy cruelty so fell? 
Bethink thee, monarch, it is ill 
With such a wolf at wolf to play, 
Who, driven to the wild woods away, 
May make the king's best deer his 

Rolf Ganger went afterwards over sea to the West to 
the Hebrides, or Sudreys ; and at last farther west to Val- 
land, where he plundered and subdued for himself a great 
earldom, which he peopled with Northmen, from which 
that land is called Normandy. Rolf Ganger's son was 
William, father to Richard, and grandfather to another 
Richard, who was the father of Robert Longspear, and 
grandfather of William the Bastard, from whom all the 
following English kings are descended. From Rolf 
Ganger also are descended the earls in Normandy. Queen 
Ragnhild the Mighty lived three years after she came to 
Norway ; and, after her death, her son and King Harald's 
was taken to the herse Thorer Hroaldson, and Eirik was 
fostered by him. 


King Harald, one winter, went about in guest-quarters 
in the Uplands, and had ordered a Christmas feast to be 

4 39 


prepared for him at the farm Thoptar. On Christmas eve 
came Svase to the door, just as the king went to table, 
and sent a message to the king to ask if he would go out 
with him. The king was angry at such a message, and 
the man who had brought it in took out with him a reply 
of the king's displeasure. But Svase, notwithstanding, 
desired that his message should be delivered a second 
time; adding to it, that he was the Fin whose hut the king 
had promised to visit, and which stood on the other side 
of the ridge. Now the king went out, and promised to 
go with him, and went over the ridge to his hut, although 
some of his men dissuaded him. There stood Snaefrid, the 
daughter of Svase, a most beautiful girl ; and she filled a 
cup of mead for the king. But he took hold both of the 
cup and of her hand. Immediately it was as if a hot 
fire went through his body ; and he wanted that very night 
to take her to his bed. But Svase said that should not 
be unless by main force, if he did not first make her his 
lawful wife. Now King Harald made Snsefrid his law- 
ful wife, and loved her so passionately that he forgot 
his kingdom, and all that belonged to his high dignity. 
They had four sons : the one was Sigurd Hrise ; the oth- 
ers Halfdan Haleg, Gudrod Ljome and Ragnvald Rettil- 
beine. Thereafter Snaefrid died; but her corpse never 
changed, but was as fresh and red as when she lived. 
The king sat always beside her, and thought she would 
come to life again. And so it went on for three years 
that he was sorrowing over her death, and the people over 
his delusion. At last Thorleif the Wise succeeded, by his 
prudence, in curing him of his delusion by accosting him 



thus : "It is nowise wonderful, king, that thou grievest 
over so beautiful and noble a wife, and bestowest costly 
coverlets and beds of down on her corpse, as she desired ; 
but these honours fall short of what is due, as she still lies 
in the same clothes. It would be more suitable to raise 
her, and change her dress." As soon as the body was 
raised in the bed all sorts of corruption and foul smells 
came from it, and it was necessary in all haste to gather 
a pile of wood and burn it ; but before this could be done 
the body turned blue, and worms, toads, newts, paddocks, 
and all sorts of ugly reptiles came out of it, and it sank 
into ashes. Now the king came to his understanding 
again, threw the madness out of his mind, and after that 
day ruled his kingdom as before. He was strengthened 
and made joyful by his subjects, and his subjects by him, 
and the country by both. 


After King Harald had experienced the cunning of the 
Fin woman, he was so angry that he drove from him the 
sons he had with her, and would not suffer them: before 
his eyes. But one of them, Gudrod Ljome, went to his 
foster-father Thjodolf of Hvin, and asked him to go to 
the king, who was then in the Uplands ; for Thjodolf was 
a great friend of the king. And so they went, and came 
to the king's house late in the evening, and sat down to- 
gether unnoticed near the door. The king walked up and 
down the floor casting his eye along the benches ; for he 
had a feast in the house, and the mead was just mixed. 
The king then murmured out these lines : 


"Tell me ye aged grey-haired heroes, Right dearly love their souls to steep, 

Who have come here to seek repose, From morn till night, in the mead- 
Wherefore must I so many keep bowl?" 
Of such a set, who, one and all, 

Then Thjodolf replies : 

"A certain wealthy chief, I think, When crowns were cracked in our 

Would gladly have had more to drink sword-play." 

With him, upon one bloody day, 

Thjodolf then took off his hat, and the king recognised 
him, and gave him a friendly reception. Thjodolf then 
begged the king not to cast off his sons; "for they would 
with great pleasure have taken a better family descent 
upon the mother's side, if the king had given it to them." 
The king assented, and told him to take Gudrod with him 
as formerly; and he sent Halfdan and Sigurd to Ringe- 
rike, and Ragnvald to Hadaland, and all was done as the 
king ordered. They grew up to be very clever men, very 
expert in all exercises. In these times King Harald sat in 
peace in the land, and the land enjoyed quietness and good 


When Earl Ragnvald in More heard of the death of his 
brother Earl Sigurd, and that the vikings were in pos- 
session of the country, he sent his son Hallad westward, 
who took the title of earl to begin with, and had many 
men-at-arms with him. When he arrived at the Orkney 
Islands, he established himself in the country; but both 
in harvest, winter, and spring, the vikings cruised about 
the isles, plundering the headlands, and committing depre- 
dations on the coast. Then Earl Hallad grew tired of 
the business, resigned his earldom,, took up again his 



rights as an allodial owner, and afterwards returned 
eastward into Norway. When Earl Ragnvald heard of 
this he was ill pleased with Hallad, and said his sons 
were very unlike their ancestors. Then said Einar, "I 
have enjoyed but little honour among you, and have 
little affection here to lose: now if you will give 
me force enough, I will go west to the islands, and prom- 
ise you what at any rate will please you that you shall 
never see me again." Earl Ragnvald replied, that he 
would be glad if he never came back ; "For there is little 
hope," said he, "that thou will ever be an honour to thy 
friends, as all thy kin on thy mother's side are born 
slaves." Earl Ragnvald gave Einar a vessel completely 
equipped, and he sailed with it into the West sea in har- 
vest. When he came to the Orkney Isles, two vikings, 
Thorer Treskeg and Kalf Skurfa, were in his way with 
two vessels. He attacked them instantly, gained the bat- 
tle, and slew the two vikings. Then this was sung : 

"Then gave he Treskeg to the trolls, 
Torfeinar slew Skurfa." 

He was called Torfeinar, because he cut peat for fuel, 
there being no firewood, as in Orkney there are no woods. 
He afterwards was earl over the islands, and was a 
mighty man. He was ugly, and blind of an eye, yet very 
sharp-sighted withal. 


Duke Guthorm dwelt principally at Tunsberg, and gov- 
erned the whole of Viken when the king was not there. 
He defended the land, which, at that time, was much 



plundered by the vikings. There were disturbances also 
up in Gautland as long as King Eirik Eymundson lived ; 
but he died when King Harald Harfager had been ten 
years king of all Norway. 


After Eirik, his son Bjorn was king of Svithjod for 
fifty years. He was father of Eirik the Victorious, and 
of Olaf the father of Styrbjorn. Guthorm died on a bed 
of sickness at Tunsberg, and King Harald gave his son 
Guthorm the government of that part of his dominions, 
and made him chief of it. 


When King Harald was forty years of age many of his 
sons were well advanced, and indeed they all came early 
to strength and manhood. And now they began to take 
it ill that the king would not give them any part of the 
kingdom, but put earls into every district; for they 
thought earls were of inferior birth to them. Then 
Halfdan Haleg and Gudrod Ljome set off one spring with 
a great force, and came suddenly upon Earl Ragnvald, 
earl of More, and surrounded the house in which he was, 
and burnt him and sixty men in it. Thereafter Halfdan 
took three long-ships, and fitted them out, and sailed into 
the West sea ; but Gudrod set himself down in the land 
which Ragnvald formerly had. Now when King Harald 
heard this he set out with a great force against Gudrod, 
who had no other way left but to surrender, and he was 



sent to Agder. King Harald then set Earl RagnvalcFs 
son Thorer over More, and gave him his daughter Alof, 
called Arbot, in marriage. Earl Thorer, called the Si- 
lent, got the same territory his father Earl Ragnvald had 


Halfdan Haleg came very unexpectedly to Orkney, and 
Earl Einar immediately fled; but came back soon after, 
about harvest time, unnoticed by Halfdan. They met, 
and after a short battle Halfdan fled the same night. 
Einar and his men lay all night without tents, and when 
it was light in the morning they searched the whole island, 
and killed every man they could lay hold of. Then Einar 
said "What is that I see upon the isle of Rinansey?" Is 
it a man or a bird? Sometimes it raises itself up, and 
sometimes lies down again." They went to it, and found 
it was Halfdan Haleg, and took him prisoner. 

Earl Einar sang the following song the evening before 
he went into this battle : 

"Where is the spear of Hrollaug? Hrollaug and Rolf are somewhat 

where slow, 

Is stout Rolf Ganger's bloody spear ! And silent Thorer sits and dreams 

I see them not ; yet never fear, At home, beside the mead-bowl's 
For Einar will not vengeance spare streams." 

Against his father's murderers, 


Thereafter Earl Einar went up to Halfdan, and cut a 
spread eagle upon his back, by striking his sword through 
his back into his belly, dividing his ribs from the back- 
bone down to his loins, and tearing out his lungs ; and so 
Halfdan was killed. Einar then sang : 



"For Rasnvald's death my sword is Heap stones and gravel on the 

red ground 

Of vengeance it cannot be said O'er Halfdan's corpse : this is the 
That Binar's share is left unsped. way 

So now, brave boys, let's raise a We Norsemen our scat duties pay." 


Then Earl Einar took possession of the Orkney Isles as 
before. Now when these tidings came to Norway, Half- 
dan's brothers took it much to heart, and thought that his 
death demanded vengeance; and many were of the same 
opinion. When Einar* heard this, he sang: 

"Many a stout udal-man, I know, Ere this stout heart betrays its cause, 

Has cause to wish my head laid low; Pull many a heart will writhe, we 

And many an angry udal knife know, 

Would gladly drink of Einar's life. In the wolf's fangs, or eagle's 

But ere they lay Earl Einar low, claws." 


King Harald now ordered a levy, and gathered a great 
force, with which he proceeded westward to Orkney ; and 
when Earl Einar heard that King Harald was come, he 
fled over to Caithness. He made the following verses on 
this occasion: 

"Many a bearded man must roam, Has left a scar. Let peasants dread 

An exile from his house and home, The vengeance of the Norsemen's 
For cow or horse ; but Halfdan's gore head ; 

Is red on Rinansey's wild shore. I reck not of his wrath, but sing, 

A nobler deed on Harald's shield 'Do thy worst ! I defy thee, king !' " 
The arm of one who ne'er will yield 

Men and messages, however, passed between the king 
and the earl, and at last it came to a conference; and 
when they met the earl submitted the case altogether to 
the king's decision, and the king condemned the earl 
Einar and the Orkney people to pay a fine of sixty marks 
of gold. As the bondes thought this was too heavy for 
them to pay, the earl offered to pay the whole if they 



would surrender their udal lands to him. This they all 
agreed to do : the poor because they had but little pieces 
of land; the rich because they could redeem their udal 
rights again when they liked. Thus the earl paid the 
whole fine to the king, who returned in harvest to Nor- 
way. The earls for a long time afterwards possessed all 
the udal lands in Orkney, until Sigurd son of Hlodver 
gave back the udal rights. 


While King Harald's son Guthorm had the defence of 
Viken, he sailed outside of the islands on the coast, and 
came in by one of the mouths of the tributaries of the 
Gaut river. When he lay there Solve Klofe came upon 
him, and immediately gave him battle, and Guthorm fell. 
Halfdan the White and Halfdan the Black went out on 
an expedition, and plundered in the East sea, and had a 
battle in Eistland, where Halfdan the White fell. 


Eirik, Harald's son, was fostered in the house of the 
herse Thorer, son of Hroald, in the Fjord district. He 
was the most beloved and honoured by King Harald of 
all his sons. When Eirik was twelve years old, King 
Harald gave him five long-ships, with which he went on an 
expedition, first in the Baltic ; then southwards to Den- 
mark, Friesland, and Saxland ; on which expedition he 
passed four years. He then sailed out into the West sea, 
and plundered in Scotland, Bretland, Ireland, and Val- 



land, and passed four years more in this way. Then he 
sailed north to Finmark, and all the way to Bjarmaland, 
where he had many a battle, and won many a victory. 
When he came back to Finmark, his men found a girl in 
a Lapland hut, whose equal for beauty they never had 
seen. She said her name was Gunhild, and that her 
father dwelt in Halogaland, and was called Ozur Tote. 
"I ami here," she said, "to learn sorcery from two of the 
most knowing Fins in all Finmark, who are now out hunt- 
ing. They both want me in marriage. They are so 
skilful that they can hunt out traces either upon the frozen 
or the thawed earth, like dogs; and they can run so 
swiftly on skees that neither man nor beast can come near 
them in speed. They hit whatever they take aim at, and 
thus kill every man who comes near them. When they 
are angry the very earth turns away in terror, and what- 
ever living thing they look upon then falls dead. Now 
ye must not come in their way ; but I will hide you here in 
the hut, and ye must try to get them killed." They 
agreed to it, and she hid them, and then took a leather 
bag, in which they thought there were ashes which she 
took in her hand, and strewed both outside and inside of 
the hut. Shortly after the Fins came home, and asked 
who had been there; and she answered, "Nobody has been 
here." "That is wonderful," said they, "we followed the 
traces close to the hut, and can find none after that." 
Then they kindled a fire, and made ready their meat, and 
Gunhild prepared her bed. It had so happened that Gun- 
hild had slept the three nights before, but the Fins had 
watched the one upon the other, being jealous of each 


other. "Now," she said to the Fins, "come here, and lie 
down one on each side of me." On which they were very 
glad to do so. She laid an arm round the neck of each, 
and they went to sleep directly. She roused them up; 
but they fell to sleep again instantly, and so soundly that 
she scarcely could waken them. She even raised them 
up in the bed, and still they slept. Thereupon she took 
two great seal-skin bags, and put their heads in them, and 
tied them fast under their arms ; and then she gave a wink 
to the king's men. They run forth with their weapons, 
kill the two Fins, and drag them out of the hut. That 
same night came such a dreadful thunder-storm that they 
could not stir. Next morning they came to the ship, tak- 
ing Gunhild with them, and presented her to Eirik. Eirik 
and his followers then sailed southwards to Halogaland ; 
and he sent word to Ozur Tote, the girl's father, to meet 
him. Eirik said he would take his daughter in marriage, 
to which Ozur Tote consented, and Eirik took Gunhild, 
and went southwards with her (A. D. 922). 


When King Harald was fifty years of age many of 
his sons were grown up, and some were dead. Many 
of them committed acts of great violence in the country, 
and were in discord among themselves. They drove some 
of the king's earls out of their properties, and even killed 
some of them-. Then the king called together a numer- 
ous Thing in the south part of the country, and summoned 
to it all the people of the Uplands. At this Thing he gave 
to all his sons the title of king, and made a law that his 



descendants in the male line should each succeed to the 
kingly title and dignity; but his descendants by the female 
side only to that of earl. And he divided the country 
among them thus: Vingulmark, Raumarike, Vestfold, 
and Thelamark, he bestowed on Olaf, Bjorn, Sigtryg, 
Frode, and Thorgils. Hedemark and Gudbrandsdal he 
gave to Dag, Hring, and Ragnar. To Snaefrid's sons he 
gave Ringerike, Hadeland, Thoten, and the lands thereto 
belonging. His son Guthorm, as before mentioned, he 
had set over the country from Glommen to Svinasund and 
Ranrike. He had set him to defend the country to the 
East, as before has been written. King Harald himself 
generally dwelt in the middle o>f the country, and Hrorek 
and Gudrod were generally with his court, and had great 
estates in Hordaland and in Sogn. King Eirik was also 
with his father King Harald ; and the king loved and re- 
garded him the most of all his sons, and gave him Haloga- 
land and North More, and Raumsdal. North in Thrond- 
hjem he gave Halfdan the Black, Halfdan the White, and 
Sigrod land to rule over. In each of these districts he 
gave his sons the one half of his revenues, together with 
the right to sit on a high-seat, a step higher than earls, 
but a step lower than his own high-seat. His king's seat 
each of his sons wanted for himself after his death, but 
he himself destined it for Eirik. The Throndhjem people 
wanted Halfdan the Black to succeed to it. The people 
of Viken, and the Uplands, wanted those under whom they 
lived. And thereupon new quarrels arose among the 
brothers; and because they thought their dominions too 
little, they drove about in piratical expeditions. In this 



way, as before related, Guthorm fell at the mouth of the 
Gant river, slain by Solve Klofe; upon which Olaf took 
the kingdom he had possessed. Half dan the White fell in 
Eistland, Halfdan Haleg in Orkney. King Harald gave 
ships of war to Thorgils and Frode, with which they went 
westward on a viking cruise, and plundered in Scotland, 
Ireland, and Bretland. They were the first of the North- 
men who took Dublin. It is said that Frode got poi- 
soned drink there ; but Thorgils was a long time king over 
Dublin, until he fell into a snare of the Irish, and was 


Eirik Blood-axe expected to be head king over all his 
brothers and King Harald intended he should be so; and 
the father and son lived long together. Ragnvald Rettil- 
beine governed Hadaland, and allowed himself to be in- 
structed in the arts of witchcraft, and became a great 
warlock. Now King Harald was a hater of all witch- 
craft. There was a warlock in Hordaland called Vitgeir ; 
and when the king sent a message to him that he should 
give up his art of witchcraft, he replied in this verse : 

"The danger surely is not great When Harald's son in Hadeland, 

From wizards born of mean estate, King Ragnvald, to the art lays hand." 

But when King Harald heard this, King Eirik Blood-axe 
went by his orders to the Uplands, and came to Hadeland, 
and burned his brother Ragnvald in a house, along with 
eighty other warlocks ; which work was much praised. 


Gudrod Ljome was in winter on a friendly visit to his 
foster-father Thjodolf in Hvin, and had a well-manned 
ship, with which he wanted to go north to Rogaland. It 
was blowing a heavy storm at the time ; but Gudrod was 
bent on sailing, and would not consent to wait. Thjodolf 
sang thus : 

"Wait, Gudrod, till the storm is Hark to the ocean's angry roar! 

past, See how the very stones are tost, 

Loose not thy long-ship while the By raging waves high on the coast ! 

blast Stay, Gudrod, till the tempest's o'er 

Howls over-head so furiously, Deep runs the sea off the Jadar's 
Trust not thy long-ship to the sea, shore." 

Loose not thy long-ship from the 

shore : 

Gudrod set off in spite of what Thjodolf could say; 
and when they came off the Jadar the vessel sunk with 
them, and all on board were lost. 


King Harald's son, Bjorn, ruled over Vestfold at that 
time, and generally lived at Tunsberg, and went but little 
on war expeditions. Tunsberg at that time was much 
frequented by merchant vessels, both from Viken and the 
north country, and also from the south, from Denmark, 
and Saxland. King Bjorn had also merchant ships on 
voyages to other lands, by which he procured for himself 
costly articles, and such things as he thought needful ; and 
therefore his brothers called him Farman (the Seaman), 
and Kaupman (the Chapman). Bjorn was a man of sense 
and understanding, and promised to become a good ruler. 
He made a good and suitable marriage, and had a son by 



his wife, who was named Gu'drod. Eirik Blood -axe came 
from his Baltic cruise with ships of war, and a great 
force, and required his brother Bjorn to deliver to him 
King Harald's share of the scat and incomes of Vestfold. 
But it had always been the custom before, that Bjorn him- 
self either delivered the money into* the king's hands, or 
sent men of his own with it ; and therefore he would con- 
tinue with the old custom, and would not deliver the 
money. Eirik again wanted provisions, tents, and liquor. 
.The brothers quarrelled about this ; but Eirik got nothing, 
and left the town. Bjorn went also out of the town to- 
wards evening up to Saeheim. In the night Eirik came 
back after Bjorn, and came to Saeheim just as Bjorn and 
his men were seated at table drinking. Eirik surrounded 
the house in which they were; but Bjorn with his men 
went out and fought. Bjorn, and many men with him, 
fell. Eirik, on the other hand, got a great booty, and 
proceeded northwards. But this work was taken very ill 
by the people of Viken, and Eirik was much disliked for 
it; and the report went that King Olaf would avenge his 
brother Bjorn, whenever opportunity offered. King 
Bjorn lies in the mound of Farmanshaug at Saeheim. 


King Eirik went in winter northwards to More, and 
was at a feast in Solve, within the point Agdanes; and 
when Halfdan the Black heard of it he set out with his 
men, and surrounded the house in which they were. Eirik 
slept in a room which stood detached by itself, and he 



escaped into the forest with four others; but Halfdan 
and his men burnt the main house, with all the people 
who were in it. With this news Eirik came to King Har- 
ald, who was very wroth at it, and assembled a great 
force against the Throndhjem people. When Halfdan 
the Black heard this he levied ships and men, so that he 
had a great force, and proceeded with it to Stad, within 
Thorsbjerg. King Harald lay with his men at Rein- 
sletta. Now people went between them, and among oth- 
ers a clever man called Guthorm Sindre, who was 
then in Halfdan the Black's army, but had been formerly 
in the service of King Harald, and was a great friend of 
both. Guthorm w is a great skald, and had once com- 
posed a song both about the father and the son, for which 
they had offered him a reward. But he would take noth- 
ing; but only asked that, some day or other, they should 
grant him any request he should make, which they prom- 
ised to do*. Now he presented himself to King Harald, 
brought words of peace between them, and made the re- 
quest to them both that they should be reconciled. So 
highly did the king esteem him, that in consequence of 
his request they were reconciled. Many other able men 
promoted this business as well as he ; and it was so settled 
that Halfdan should retain the whole of his kingdom as 
he had it before, and should let his brother Eirik sit in 
peace. After this event Jorun, the skald-maid, composed 
some verses in Sendibit (The Biting Message) : 

"I know that Harald Fairhair To Harald Halfdan seemed 

Knew the dark deed of Halfdan. Angry and cruel." 



Earl Hakon Grjotgardson oi Hlader had the whole 
rule over Throndhjem when King Harald was anywhere 
away in the country; and Hakon stood higher with the 
king than any in the country of Throndhjem>. After Ha- 
kon's death his son Sigurd succeeded to his power in 
Throndhjem, and was the earl, and had his mansion at 
Hlader. King Harald's sons, Halfdan the Black and 
Sigrod, who had been before in the house of his father 
Earl Hakon, continued to be brought up in his house. 
The sons of Harald and Sigurd were about the same age. 
Earl Sigurd was one of the wisest men of his time, and 
married Bergljot, a daughter of Earl Thorer the Silent; 
and her mother was Alof Arbot, a daughter of Harald 
Harfager. When King Harald began to grow old he 
generally dwelt on some of his great farms in Hordaland ; 
namely, Alreksstader or Saeheim, Fitjar, Utstein, or Og- 
valdsnes in the island Kormt. When Harald was sev- 
enty years of age he begat a son with a girl called Thora 
Mosterstang, because her family came from Moster. She 
was descended from good people, being connected with 
Kare (Aslakson) of Hordaland; and was moreover a 
very stout and remarkably handsome girl. She was 
called the king's servant-girl ; for at that time many were 
subject to service to the king who were of good birth, 
both men and women. Then it was the custom, with peo- 
ple of consideration, to choose with great care the man 
who should pour water over their children, and give them 
a name. Now when the time came that Thora, who was 

5 55 


then at Moster, expected her confinement, she would go 
to King Harald, who was then living at Saeheim ; and she 
went northwards in a ship belonging to Earl Sigurd. 
They lay at night close to the land; and there Thora 
brought forth a child upon the land, up among the rocks, 
close to the ship's gangway, and it was a man child. 
Earl Sigurd poured water over him, and called him 
Hakon, after his own father, Hakon earl of Hlader. The 
boy soon grew handsome, large in size, and very like his 
father King Harald. King Harald let him follow his 
mother, and they were both in the king's house as long 
as he was an infant. 


At this time a king called Athelstan had taken the 
kingdom- of England. He was called victorious and 
faithful. He sent men to Norway to King Harald, with 
the errand that the messengers should present him with 
a sword, with the hilt and handle gilt, and also the whole 
sheath adorned with gold and silver, and set with precious 
jewels. The ambassador presented the sword-hilt to the 
king, saying, "Here is a sword which King Athelstan 
sends thee, with the request that thou wilt accept it." The 
king took the sword by the handle; whereupon the am- 
bassador said, "Now thou hast taken the sword according 
to our king's desire, and therefore art thou his subject, 
as thou hast taken his sword." King Harald saw now 
that this was an insult, for he would be subject to no 
man. But he remembered it was his rule, whenever any- 



thing raised his anger, to collect himself, and let his pas- 
sion run off, and then take the matter into consideration 
coolly. Now he did so, and consulted his friends, who all 
gave him the advice to let the ambassadors, in the first 
place, go home in safety. 


The following summer King Harald sent a ship west- 
ward to England, and gave the command of it to Hauk 
Habrok. He was a great warrior, and very dear to the 
king. Into his hands he gave his son Hakon. Hauk 
proceeded westward to England, and found King Ath- 
elstan in London, where there was just at the time a great 
feast and entertainment. When they came to the hall, 
Hauk told his men how they should conduct themselves; 
namely, that he who went first in should go last out, and 
all should stand in a row at the table, at equal distance 
from each other; and each should have his sword at his 
left side, but should fasten his cloak so that his sword 
should not be seen. Then they went into the hall, thirty 
in number. Hauk went up to the king and saluted him, 
and the king bade him welcome. Then Hauk took the 
child Hakon, and set it on the king's knee. The king 
looks at the boy, and asks Hauk what the meaning of this 
is. Hauk replies, "Harald the king bids thee foster his 
servant-girl's child." The king was in great anger, and 
seized a sword which lay beside him, and drew it, as if 
he was going to kill the child. Hauk says, "Thou hast 
borne him on thy knee, and thou canst murder him if thou 
wilt ; but thou wilt not make an end of all King Harald's 



sons by so doing." On that Hauk went out with all his 
men, and took the way direct to his ship, and put to sea, 
for they were ready, and came back to King Harald. 
The king was highly pleased with this ; for it is the com- 
mon observation of all people, that the man who fosters 
another's children is of less consideration than the other. 
From these transactions between the two kings, it appears 
that each wanted to be held greater than the other; but 
in truth there was no injury to the dignity of either, for 
each was the upper king in his own kingdom till his 
dying day. 


King Athelstan had Hakon baptized, and brought up 
in the right faith, and in good habits, and all sorts of good 
manners, and he loved Hakon above all his relations ; and 
Hakon was beloved by all men. He was henceforth 
called Athelstan's foster-son. He was an accomplished 
skald, and he was larger, stronger and more beautiful 
than other men ; he was a man of understanding and elo- 
quence, and also a good Christian. King Athelstan gave 
Hakon a sword, of which the hilt and handle were gold, 
and the blade still better; for with it Hakon cut down a 
mill-stone to the centre eye, and the sword thereafter 
was called the Quernbite. 1 Better sword never came into 
Norway, and Hakon carried it to his dying day. 

iQuern is the name of the small hand mill-stones still found In use 
among the cottars in Orkney, Shetland, and the Hebrides. L. 

This sword is mentioned in the Younger Edda. There were many 
excellent swords in the olden time, and many of them had proper names. 



When King Harald was eighty years of age (930) he 
became very heavy, and unable to travel through the 
country, or do the business of a king. Then he brought 
his son Eirik to his high-seat, and gave him the power and 
command over the whole land. Now when King Har- 
ald's other sons heard this, King Halfdan the Black also 
took a king's high-seat, and took all Throndhjem land, 
with the consent of all the people, under his rule as upper 
king. After the death of Bjorn the Chapman, his brother 
Olaf took the command over Vestfold, and took Bjorn's 
son, Gudrod, as his foster-child. Olaf's son was called 
Trygve; and the two foster-brothers were about the same 
age, and were hopeful and clever. Trygve, especially, 
was remarkable as a stout and strong man. Now when 
the people of Viken heard that those of Hordaland had 
taken Eirik as upper king, they did the same, and made 
Olaf the upper king in Viken, which kingdom he retained. 
Eirik did not like this at all. Two years after this, Half- 
dan the Black died suddenly at a feast in Throndhjem, 
and the general report was that Gunhild had bribed a 
witch to give him a death-drink. Thereafter the Thrond- 
hjem people took Sigrod to be their king. 


King Harald lived three years after he gave Eirik the 
supreme authority over his kingdom, and lived mostly on 
his great farms which he possessed, some in Rogaland, 
and some in Hordaland. Eirik and Gunhild had a son, 
on whom King Harald poured water, and gave him his 



own name, and the promise that he should be king after 
his father Eirik. King Harald married most of his 
daughters within the country to his earls, and from them 
many great families are descended. King Harald died 
on a bed of sickness in Rogaland (933), and was buried 
under a mound at Haugar in Karmtsund. In Hauge- 
sund is a church, now standing; and not far from the 
churchyard, at the north-west side, is King Harald Har- 
fager's mound; but his grave-stone stands west of the 
church, and is thirteen feet and a half high, and two ells 
broad. One stone was set at the head and one at the feet ; 
on the top lay the slab, and below on both sides were 
laid small stones. The grave, mound, and stone, are there 
to the present day. Harald Harfager was, according to 
the report of men of knowledge, of remarkably handsome 
appearance, great and strong, and very generous and affa- 
ble to his men. He was a great warrior in his youth ; and 
people think that this was foretold by his mother's dream 
before his birth, as the lowest part of the tree she dreamt 
of was red as blood. The stem again was green and 
beautiful, which betokened his flourishing kingdom ; and 
that the tree was white at the top showed that he should 
reach a grey-haired old age. The branches and twigs 
showed forth his posterity, spread over the whole land; 
for of his race, ever since, Norway has always had kings. 


King Eirik took all the revenues (934), which the king 
had in the middle of the country, the next winter after 
King Harald's decease. But Olaf took all the revenues 



eastward in Viken, and their brother Sigrod all that of the 
Throndhjem country. Eirik was very ill pleased with 
this ; and the report went that he would attempt with force 
to get the sole sovereignty over the country, in the same 
way as his father had given it to him. Now when Olaf 
and Sigrod heard this, messengers passed between them ; 
and after appointing a meeting place, Sigrod went east- 
ward in spring to Viken, and he and his brother Olaf met 
at Tunsberg, and remained there a while. The same 
spring (934), King Eirik levied a great force, and ships, 
and steered towards Viken. He got such a strong steady 
gale that he sailed night and day, and came faster than 
the news of him. When he came to Tunsberg, Olaf and 
Sigrod, with their forces, went out of the town a little 
eastward to a ridge, where they drew up their men in bat- 
tle order; but as Eirik had many more men he won the 
battle. Both brothers, Olaf and Sigrod, fell there; and 
both their grave-mounds are upon the ridge where they 
fell. Then King Eirik went through Viken, and subdued 
it, and remained far into summer. Gudrod and Trygve 
fled to the Uplands. Eirik was a stout handsome man, 
strong, and very manly, a great and fortunate man of 
war ; but bad-minded, gruff, unfriendly, and silent. Gun- 
hild, his wife, was the most beautiful of women, clever, 
with much knowledge, and lively ; but a very false person, 
and very cruel -in disposition. The children of King 
Eirik and Gunhild were, Gamle, the oldest; then Guth- 
orm, Harald, Ragnfrod, Ragnhild, Erling, Gudrod, and 
Sigurd Sleva. All were handsome, and of manly ap- 
pearance. 1 

J 0f Eirik, his wife, and children, see the following sagas. 




OF Eirik Blood-axe's five years' reign Snorre has no separate 
saga. He appears not to have been beloved by the people and his 
queen Gunhild seems to have had a bad influence on him. 

Other accounts of Hakon may be found in Fagrskinna (chaps. 
25-34), Agrip, Historia, Norvegiae, and in Thjodrek (chap. 4). 

The reader is also referred to Saxo, Egla, Laxdaela, Kormaks 
Saga, Gisle Surssons Saga, Halfred's Saga, Floamanna Saga, 
Viga Glums Saga, and to Landnamabok. 

Skalds mentioned in this Saga are: Glum Geirason, Thord 
Sjarekson, Guthorm Sindre, Kormak Ogmundson, and Eyvind 
Skaldaspiller. In the Egla are found many poems belonging to 
this epoch by Egil Skallagrimson. 

In Fagrskinna is found a poem (not given by Snorre) which 
Gunhild (his wife) had made on King Eirik after his death, 
telling how Odin welcomed him to Valhal. The author or skald 
who composed it is not known, but it is considered to be one of 
the gems of old Norse poetry, and we here quote it in Vigfusson's 
translation in his Corpus Poeticum, vol. i. pp. 260, 261. Gudbrand 
Vigfusson has filled up a few gaps from Hakonarmal, the poem 
at the end of this Saga. "We have changed Vigfusson's ortho- 
graphy of names, and brought them into harmony with the 
spelling used in this work: Ed. 

Odin wakes in the morning and cries, as he opens his eyes, with his 
dream still fresh in his mind: What dreams are these? I thought I 
arose before daybreak to make Valhal ready for a host of slain. I woke 
up the host of the chosen. I bade them rise up to strew the benches, and 
to fill up the beer-vats, and I bade valkyries to bear the wine, as if a 
king were coming. I look for the coming of some noble chiefs from the 
earth, wherefore my heart is glad. 

Brage, Odin's counsellor, now wakes, as a great din is heard without, 
and calls out: What is that thundering? as if a thousand men or some 
great host were tramping on the walls and the benches are creaking 
withal as if Balder was coming back to the hall of Odin? 

Odin answers : Surely thou speakest foolishly, good Brage, although 
thou art very wise. It thunders for Eirik the king, that is coming to 
the hall of Odin. 



Then turning to his heroes, Tie cries : Sigmund and Sinf jotle, rise up 
in haste and go forth to meet the prince ! Bid him in if it be Eirik, for 
it is he whom I look for. 

Sigmund answers : Why lookest thou more for Eirik, the king, to 
Odin's hall, than for other kings? 

Odin ansicers : Because he has reddened his brand, and borne his 
bloody sword in many a land. 

Quoth Sigmund : Why didst thou rob him, the chosen king of victory, 
then, seeing thou thoughtest him so brave? . . . 

Odin answers : Because it is not surely to be known, when the grey 
wolf shall come upon the seat of the god. 

SECOND SCENE. Without Valhal. 
Sigmund and Sinfjotle go outside the hall and meet Eirik. 

Quoth Sigmund : Hail to thee, Eirik, be welcome here, and come 
into the hall, thou gallant king! Now I will ask thee, what kings are 
these that follow thee from the clash of the sword edges? 

Eirik answers : They are five kings ; I will tell thee all their names ; 
I myself am the sixth. (The names followed in the song, whereof the 
rest is lost.) 

Fagrskinna says Hakonarmal was the model of this 


Hakon, Athelstan's foster-son, was in England at the 
time (934) he heard of his father King Harald's death, 
and he immediately made himself ready to depart. King 
Athelstan gave him men, and a choice of good ships, and 
fitted him out for his journey most excellently. In har- 
vest time he came to Norway, where he heard of the death 
of his brothers, and that King Eirik was then in Viken. 
Then Hakon sailed northwards to Throndhjem, where 
he went to Sigurd earl of Hlader who was the ablest man 
in Norway. He gave Hakon a good reception; and 
they made a league with each other, by which Hakon 
promised great power to Sigurd if he was made king. 
They assembled then a numerous Thing, and Sigurd the 
earl recommended Hakon's cause to the Thing, and pro- 
posed him to the bondes as king. Then Hakon himself 



stood up and spoke; and the people said to each other, 
two and two, as they heard him, "Harald Harfager is 
come again, and grown young." The beginning of 
Hakon's speech was, that he offered himself to the bondes 
as king, and desired from them the title of king, and aid 
and forces to defend the kingdom. He promised, on the 
other hand, to make all the bondes udal-holders, and give 
every man tidal rights to the land he lived on. This 
speech met such joyful applause, that the whole public 
cried and shouted that they would take him to be king. 
And so it was that the Throndhjem people took Hakon, 
who was then fifteen years old, for king; and he took a 
court or bodyguard, and servants, and proceeded through 
the country. The news reached the Uplands that the 
people in Throndhjem had taken to themselves a king, 
who in every respect was like King Harald Harfager, 
with the difference, that Harald had made all the people 
of the land vassals, and unfree; but this Hakon wished 
well to every man, and offered the bondes to give them 
their udal rights again, which Harald had taken from 
them. All were rejoiced at this news, and it passed from 
mouth to mouth, it flew, like fire in dry grass, through 
the whole land, and eastward to the land's end. Many 
bondes came from the Uplands to meet King Hakon. 
Some sent messengers, some tokens ; and all to the same 
effect that his men they would be : and the king received 
all thankfully. 

Early in winter (935), the king went to the Uplands, 



and summoned the people to a Thing ; and there streamed 
all to him who could come. He was proclaimed king at 
every Thing; and then he proceeded eastward to Viken, 
where his brother's sons, Trygve and Gudrod, and many 
others, came unto him, and complained of the sorrow and 
evil his brother Eirik had wrought. The hatred to King 
Eirik grew more and more, the more liking all men took 
to King Hakon ; and they got more boldness to say what 
they thought. King Hakon gave Trygve and Gudrod 
the title of kings, and the dominions which King Harald 
had bestowed on their fathers. Trygve got Ranrike 
and Vingulmark, and Gudrod, Vestfold ; but as they were 
young, and in the years of childhood, he appointed able 
men to rule the land for them. He gave them the country 
on the same conditions as it had been given before, 
that they should have half of the scat and revenues with 
him. Towards spring King Hakon returned north, over 
the Uplands, to Throndhjem. 


King Hakon, early in spring, collected a great army at 
Throndhjem, and fitted out ships. The people of Viken 
also had a great force on foot, and intended to join 
Hakon. King Eirik also levied people in the middle of 
the country ; but it went badly with him to gather people, 
for the leading men left him, and went over to Hakon. 
As he saw himself not nearly strong enough to oppose 
Hakon, he sailed (935) out to the West sea with such 
men as would follow him. He first sailed to Orkney, 
and took many people with him from that country; and 



then went south towards England, plundering in Scot- 
land, and in the north parts of England, wherever he 
could land. Athelstan, the king of England, sent a mes- 
sage to Eirik, offering him dominions under him in 
England ; saying that King Harald his father was a good 
friend of King Athelstan, and therefore he would do 
kindly towards his sons. Messengers passed between the 
two kings ; and it came to an agreement that King Eirik 
should take Northumberland as a fief from King Athel- 
stan, and which land he should defend against the Danes 
or other vikings. Eirik should let himself be baptized, 
together with his wife and children, and all the people who 
had followed him. Eirik accepted this offer, and was 
baptized, and adopted the right faith. Northumberland 
is called a fifth part of England. Eirik had his residence 
at York, where Lodbrok's sons, it was said, had formerly 
been, and Northumberland was principally inhabited by 
Northmen. Since Lodbrok's sons had taken the coun- 
try, Danes and Northmen often plundered there, when 
the power of the land was out of their hands. Many 
names of places in the country are Norwegian; as Grims- 
by, Haukfliot, and many others. 


King Eirik had many people about him, for he kept 
many Northmen who had come with him from the East ; 
and also many of his friends had joined him from Nor- 
way. But as he had little land, he went on a cruise every 
summer, and plundered in Scotland, the Hebrides, Ireland, 



and Bretland, by which he gathered property. King 
Athelstan died on a sick bed, after a reign of fourteen 
years, eight weeks, and three days. After him his 
brother Jatmund was king of England, and he was no 
friend to the Northmen. King Eirik, also, was in no 
great favour with him; and the word went about that 
King Jatmund would set another chief over Northum- 
berland. Now when King Eirik heard this, he set off on 
a viking cruise to the westward; and from the Orkneys 
took with him the Earls Arnkel and Erlend, the sons of 
Earl Torfeinar. Then he sailed to the Hebrides, where 
there were many vikings and troop-kings, who joined 
their men to his. With all this force he steered to Ire- 
land first, where he took with him all the men he could, 
and then to Bretland, and plundered; and sailed there- 
after south to England, and marauded there as elsewhere. 
The people fled before him wherever he appeared. As 
King Eirik was a bold warrior, and had a great force, he 
trusted so much to his people that he penetrated far inland 
in the country, following and plundering the fugitives. 
King Jatmund had set a king, who was called Olaf, to 
defend the land ; and he gathered an innumerable mass of 
people, with whom he marched against King Eirik. A 
dreadful battle ensued, in which many Englishmen fell; 
but for one who fell came three in his place out of the 
country behind, and when evening came on the loss of 
men turned on the side of the Northmen, and many peo- 
ple fell. Towards the end of the day, King Eirik and 
five kings with him fell. Three of them were Guthorm 
and his two sons, Ivar and Harek : there fell, also, Sigurd 



and Ragnvald; and with them Torfeinars two sons, 
Arnkel and Erlend. Besides these, there was a great 
slaughter of Northmen ; and those who escaped went to 
Northumberland, and brought the news to Gunhild and 
her sons (941). 


When Gunhild and her sons knew for certain that King 
Eirik had fallen, after having plundered the land of the 
King of England, they thought there was no peace to be 
expected for them; and they made themselves ready to 
depart from Northumberland, with all the ships King 
Eirik had left, and all the men who would go with them. 
They took also all the loose property, and goods which 
they had gathered partly as taxes in England, partly as 
booty on their expeditions. With their army they first 
steered northward to Orkney, where Thorfin Hausaklju- 
fer was earl, a son of Torfeinar, and took up their station 
there for a time. Eirik's sons subdued these islands and 
Hjaltland, took scat for themselves, and staid there all 
the winter ; but went on viking cruises in summer to the 
West, and plundered in Scotland and Ireland. About this 
Glum Geirason sings : 

"The hero who knows well to ride Of flaming war ; with conquering 
The sea-horse o'er the foaming hand 

tide, Drives many a Scottish warrior tall 

He who in boyhood wild rode o'er To the bright seats in Odin's hall. 

The seaman's horse to Skanea's The fire-spark, by the fiend of war 

shore, fanned to a flame, soon spreads afar. 

And showed the Danes his galley's Crowds trembling fly, the southern 

bow, foes 

Right nobly scours the ocean now. Fall thick beneath the hero's blows : 

On Scotland's coast he lights the The hero's blade drips red with gore, 

brand Staining the green sward on the 




When King Eirik had left the country, King Hakon, 
Athelstan's foster-son, subdued the whole of Norway. 
The first winter (936) he visited the western parts, and 
then went north, and settled in Throndhjem. But as no 
peace could be reasonably looked for so long as King 
Eirik with his forces could come to Norway from the 
West sea, he set himself with his men-at-arms in the 
middle of the country, in the Fjord district, or in Sogn, 
or Hordaland, or Rogaland. Hakon placed Sigurd earl 
of Hlader over the whole Throndhjem district, as he and 
his father had before had it under Harald Harfager. 
When King Hakon heard of his brother Eirik's death, 
and also that his sons had no footing in England, he 
thought there was not much to fear from them, and he 
went with his troops one summer eastward to Viken. At 
that time the Danes plundered often in Viken, and 
wrought much evil there; but when they heard that King 
Hakon was come with a great army, they got out of the 
way, to Halland; and those who were nearest to King 
Hakon went out to sea, and over to Jotland (Jutland). 
When the king heard of this, he sailed after them with all 
his army. On arriving in Jutland he plundered all round ; 
and when the country people heard of it, they assembled 
in a great body, and determined to defend their land, and 
fight. There was a great battle ; and King Hakon fought 
so boldly, that he went forward before his banner without 
helmet or coat of mail. King Hakon won the victory, 
and drove the fugitives far up the country. So says 
Guthorm Sindre, in his song of Hakon: 



"Furrowing the deep-blue sea with Glutted the ravens, who from far, 
oars Scenting the banquet-feast of war, 

The king pursues to Jutland's shores. Came in black flocks to Jutland's 

SR&^&ltfSSrffiU To ?th. Wood-wine from the 
Of goodly warrior on the plain, veins. 

Full many a corpse by Hakon slain, 


Then Hakon steered southwards with his fleet to seek 
the vikings, and so on to Sealand. He rowed with two 
cutters into the Eyrarsund, where he found eleven viking 
ships, and instantly attacked them. It ended in his gain- 
ing the victory, and clearing the viking ships of all their 
men. So says Guthorm Sindre: 

"Hakon the Brave, whose skill all And cleared the decks with his blue 

know sword 

To bend in battle storm the bow, That rules the fate of war, on board 

Rushed o'er the waves to Sealand's Eleven ships of the Vindland men, 

tongue, Famous is Hakon's name since then." 
His two war-ships with gilt shields 



Thereafter King Hakon carried war far and wide in 
Sealand; plundering some, slaying others, taking some 
prisoners of war, taking ransom from others, and all 
without opposition. Then Hakon proceeded along the 
coast of Skane, pillaging everywhere, levying taxes and 
ransoms from the country, and killing all vikings, both 
Danish and Vindish. He then went eastwards to the 
district of Gautland, marauded there, and took great 
ransom from the country. So says Guthorm Sindre: 

"Hakon, who midst the battle shock Of Odin clad, made Gautland yield 

Stands like a firmly-rooted oak, A ransom of the ruddy gold, 

Subdued ell Sealand with the sword ; Which Hakon to his war-men bold 

From Vindland vikings the sea-bord Gave with free hand, who in his feud 

Of Scania swept ; and, with the shield Against the arrow-storm had stood." 



King Hakon returned back in autumn with his army 
and an immense booty; and remained all the winter 
(946) in Viken to defend it against the Danes and Gaut- 
landers, if they should attack it. 


In the same winter King Trygve Olafson returned 
from a viking cruise in the West sea, having before rav- 
aged in Ireland and Scotland. In spring (946) King 
Hakon went north, and set his brother's son, King 
Trygve, over Viken to defend that country against ene- 
mies. He gave him also in property all that he could 
reconquer of the country in Denmark, which the summer 
before King Hakon had subjected to payment of scat to 
him. So says Guthorm: 

"King Hakon, whose sharp sword 

dyes red 

The bright steel cap on many a head, 
Has set a warrior brave and stout 
The foreign foeman to keep out, 
To keep that green land safe from 

Which black Night bore to dwarf 

Annar. 4 

For many a carle whose trade's to 


The battle-axe, and swing the shield, 
On the swan's ocean-skates has come, 
In white-winged ships, across the 


Across the sea, from far Ireland, 
To war against the Norseman's land." 


King Harald Gormson ruled over Denmark at that 
time. He took it much amiss that King Hakon had made 
war in his dominions, and the report went that he would 
take revenge ; but this did not take place so soon. When 
Gunhild and her sons heard there was enmity between 
Denmark and Norway, they began to turn their course 

J The dwarf Annar was the husband of Night, and Earth was their 
daughter. L. 

6 71 


from the West. They married King Eirik's daughter, 
Ragnhild, to Arnfin, a son of Thorfin Hausakljufer ; and 
as soon as Eirik's sons went away, Thorfin took the earl- 
dom again over the Orkney Islands. Gamle Eirikson 
was somewhat older than the other brothers, but still he 
was not a grown man. When Gunhild and her sons 
came from the westward to Denmark, they were well re- 
ceived by King Harald. He gave them great fiefs in his 
kingdom, so that they could maintain themselves and 
their men very well. He also took Harald Eirikson to 
be his foster-son, set him on his knee, and thereafter he 
was brought up at the Danish king's court. Some of 
Eirik's sons went out on viking expeditions as soon as 
they were old enough, and gathered property, ravaging 
all around in the East sea. They grew up quickly to be 
handsome men, and far beyond their years in strength 
and perfection. Glum Geirason tells of one of them in 
the Graf eld song: 

"I've heard that, on the Eastland Of swords, sung sharp his good 
coast, sword's sway, 

Great victories were won and lost. As strong in arm as free of gold, 

The king, whose hand is ever graced He thinn'd the ranks of warriors 

With gift to skald, his banner placed bold." 

On, and still on ; while, midst the 

Then Eirik's sons turned northwards with their troops 
to Viken and marauded there; but King Trygve kept 
troops on foot with which he met them, and they had many 
a battle, in which the victory was sometimes on one side, 
and sometimes on the other. Sometimes Eirik's sons 
plundered in Viken, and sometimes Trygve in Sealand 
and Halland. 



As long as Hakon was king in Norway, there was 
good peace between the bondes and merchants; so that 
none did harm either to the life or goods of the other. 
Good seasons also there were, both by sea and land. King 
Hakon was of a remarkably cheerful disposition, clever 
in words, and very condescending. He was a man of 
great understanding also, and bestowed attention on law- 
giving. He gave out the Gula-thing's laws on the ad- 
vice of Thorleif Spake (the Wise) ; also the Frosta- 
thing's laws on the advice of Earl Sigurd, and of other 
Throndhjem men of wisdom. Eidsiva-thing laws were 
first established in the country by Halfdan the Black, as 
has before been written. 


King Hakon kept Yule at Throndhjem, and Earl 
Sigurd had made a feast for him at Hlader. The night 
of the first day of Yule the earl's wife, Bergljot, was 
brought to bed of a boy-child, which afterwards King 
Hakon poured water over, and gave him his own name. 
The boy grew up, and became in his day a mighty and 
able man, and was earl after his father, who was King 
Hakon's dearest friend. 


Eystein, a king of the Uplands, whom some called the 
Great, and some the Bad, once on a time made war in 
Throndhjem, and subdued Eyna district and Spar- 



byggia district, and set his own son Onund over them'; 
but the Throndhjem people killed him. Then King 
Eystein made another inroad into Throndhjem, and rav- 
aged the land far and wide, and subdued it. He then 
offered the people either his slave, who was called Thorer 
Faxe, or his dog, whose name was Saur, to be their king. 
They preferred the dog, as they thought they would 
sooner get rid of him. Now the dog was, by witchcraft, 
gifted with three men's wisdom ; and when he barked, he 
spoke one word and barked two. A collar and chain of 
gold and silver were made for him, and his courtiers car- 
ried him on their shoulders when the weather or ways 
were foul. A throne was erected for him, and he sat 
upon a high place, as kings are used to sit. He dwelt 
on Eyin Idre (Idre Isle), and had his mansion in a place 
now called Saurshaug. It is told that the occasion of 
his death was that the wolves one day broke into his 
fold, and his courtiers stirred him up to defend his cat- 
tle ; but when he ran down from his mound, and attacked 
the wolves, they tore him into pieces. Many other ex- 
traordinary things were done by this King Eystein 
against the Throndhjem people, and in consequence of 
this persecution and trouble, many chiefs and people fled 
and left their tidal properties. 


Ketil Jamte, a son of Earl Onund of Sparabu, went 
eastward across the mountain ridge, and with him a great 
multitude, who took all their farm-stock and goods with 
them. They cleared the woods, and established large 



farms, and settled the country afterwards called Jamta- 
land. Thorer Helsing, Ketil's grandson, on account of 
a murder, ran away from Jamtaland and fled eastward 
through the forest, and settled there. Many people fol- 
lowed; and that country, which extends eastward down 
to the sea-coast, was called Helsingjaland ; and its eastern 
parts are inhabited by Swedes. Now when Harald Har- 
fager took possession of the whole country many people 
fled before him, both people of Throndhjem and of 
Naumudal districts ; and thus new settlers came to Jam- 
taland, and some all the way to Helsingjaland. The 
Helsingjaland people travelled into Svithiod for their mer- 
chandise, and thus became altogether subjects of that 
country. The Jamtaland people, again, were in a man- 
ner between the two countries; and nobody cared about 
them, until Hakon entered into friendly intercourse with 
Jamtaland, and made friends of the more powerful peo- 
ple. Then they resorted to him, and promised him obedi- 
ence and payment of taxes, and became his subjects; for 
they saw nothing but what was good in him, and being 
of Norwegian race they would rather stand under his 
royal authority than under the king of Sweden: and he 
gave them laws, and rights to their land. All the people 
of Helsingjaland did the same, that is, all who were of 
Norwegian race, from the other side of the great moun- 
tain ridge. 


King Hakon was a good Christian when he came to 
Norway; but as the whole country was heathen, with 



much heathenish sacrifice, and as many great people, as 
well as the favour of the common people, were to be con- 
ciliated, he resolved to practise his Christianity in private. 
But he kept Sundays, and the Friday fasts, and some token 
of the greatest holy-days. He made a law that the fes- 
tival of Yule should begin at the same time as Christian 
people held it, and that every man, under penalty, should 
brew a meal of malt into ale, and therewith keep the 
Yule holy as long as it lasted. Before him, the beginning 
of Yule, or the slaughter night, was the night of mid- 
winter (Dec. 14), and Yule was kept for three days 
thereafter. It was his intent, as soon as he had set him- 
self fast in the land, and had subjected the whole to his 
power, to introduce Christianity. He went to work first 
by enticing to Christianity the men who were dearest to 
him ; and many, out of friendship to him, allowed them- 
selves to be baptized, and some laid aside sacrifices. He 
dwelt long in the Throndhjem district, for the strength 
of the country lay there; and when he thought that, by 
the support of some powerful people there, he could set 
up Christianity he sent a message to England for a bishop 
and other teachers; and when they arrived in Norway^ 
Hakon made it known that he would proclaim Christian- 
ity over all the land. The people of More and Raumsdal 
referred the matter to the people of Throndhjem. King 
Hakon then had several churches consecrated, and put 
priests into them,; and when he came to Throndhjem he 
summoned the bondes to a Thing, and invited them to 
accept Christianity. They gave an answer to the effect 
that they would defer the matter until the Frosta-thing, 



at which there would be men from every district of the 
Throndhjem country, and then they would give their 
determination upon this difficult matter. 


Sigurd, earl of Hlader, was one of the greatest men 
for sacrifices, and so had Hakon his father been; and 
Sigurd always presided on account of the king at all the 
festivals of sacrifice in the Throndhjem country. It was 
an old custom, that when there was to be sacrifice all the 
bondes should come to the spot where the temple stood, 
and bring with them all that they required while the festi- 
val of the sacrifice lasted. To this festival all the men 
brought ale with them; and all kinds of cattle, as well as 
horses, were slaughtered, and all the blood that came from 
them was called hlaut, and the vessels in which it was 
collected were called hlaut-vessels. Hlaut-staves were 
made, like sprinkling brushes, with which the whole of 
the altars and the temple walls, both outside and inside, 
were sprinkled over, and also the people were sprinkled 
with the blood; but the flesh was boiled into savoury 
meat for those present. The fire was in the middle of the 
floor of the temple, and over it hung the kettles, and the 
full goblets were handed across the fire ; and he who made 
the feast, and was a chief, blessed the full goblets, and all 
the meat of the sacrifice. And first Odin's goblet was 
emptied for victory and power to his king; thereafter, 
Niord's and Freyja's goblets for peace and a good sea- 
son. Then it was the custom of many to empty the 



brage-goblet; 1 and then the guests emptied a goblet to 
the memory of departed friends, called the remembrance- 
goblet. Sigurd the earl was an open-handed man, who 
did what was very much celebrated; namely, he made a 
great sacrifice festival at Hlader of which he paid all the 
expenses. Kormak Ogmundson sings of it in his ballad 
of Sigurd : 

"Of cup or platter need has none For Sigurd's hand is bounteous, 

The guest who seeks the generous free, 

one, The guardian of the temples he. 

Sigurd the Generous, who can trace He loves the gods, his liberal hand 
His lineage from the giant race ; Scatters his sword's gains o'er the 



King Hakon came to the Frosta-thing, at which a vast 
multitude of people were assembled. And when the 
Thing was seated, the king spoke to the people, and began 
his speech with saying, it was his message and entreaty 
to the bondes and householding men, both great and 
small, and to the whole public in general, young and old, 
rich and poor, women as well as men, that they should all 
allow themselves to be baptized, and should believe in 
one God, and in Christ the son of Mary ; and refrain from 
all sacrifices and heathen gods; and should keep holy the 
seventh day, and abstain from all work on it, and keep a 
fast on the seventh day. As soon as the king had pro- 
posed this to the bondes, great was the murmur and noise 
among the crowd. They complained that the king 
wanted to take their labour and their old faith from them, 
and the land could not be cultivated in that way. The 

J The brage-goblet, over which vows were made. L, 



labouring men and slaves thought that they could not 
work if they did not get meat; and they said it was the 
character of King Hakon, and his father, and all the fam- 
ily, to be generous enough with their money, but spar- 
ing with their diet. Asbjorn of Medalhus in the Gaular- 
dal stood up, and answered thus to the king's proposal : 
"We bondes, King Hakon, when we elected thee to be 
our king, and got back our udal rights at the Thing held 
in Throndhjem, thought we had got into heaven ; but now 
we don't know whether we have really got back our free- 
dom, or whether thou wishest to make vassals of us 
again by this extraordinary proposal that we should 
abandon the ancient faith which our fathers and fore- 
fathers have held from the oldest times, in the times when 
the dead were burnt, as well as since that they are laid 
under mounds, and which, although they were braver 
than the people of our days, has served us as a faith to 
the present time. We have also held thee so dear, that 
we have allowed thee to rule and give law and right to 
all the country. And even now we bondes will unani- 
mously hold by the law which thou givest us here in the 
Frosta-thing, and to which we have also given our as- 
sent; and we will follow thee, and have thee for our 
king, as long as there is a living man among us bondes 
here in this Thing assembled. But thou, king, must use 
some moderation towards us, and only require from us 
such things as we can obey thee in, and are not impossible 
for us. If, however, thou wilt take up this matter with a 
high hand, and wilt try thy power and strength against 
us, we bondes have resolved among ourselves to part 



with thee, and to take to ourselves some other chief, who 
will so conduct himself towards us that we can freely and 
safely enjoy that faith that suits our own inclinations. 
Now, king, thou must choose one or other of these condi- 
tions before the Thing is ended," 

The bondes gave loud applause to this speech, and said 
it expressed their will, and they would stand or fall by 
what had been spoken. When silence was again re- 
stored, Earl Sigurd said, "It is King Hakon's will to give 
way to you, the bondes, and never to separate himself 
from your friendship." The bondes replied, that it was 
their desire that the king should offer a sacrifice for 
peace and a good year, as his father was wont to do ; and 
thereupon the noise and tumult ceased, and the Thing 
was concluded. Earl Sigurd spoke to the king after- 
wards, and advised him not to refuse altogether to do as 
the people desired, saying there was nothing else for it 
but to give way to the will of the bondes; "for it is, as 
thou hast heard thyself, the will and earnest desire of the 
head-people, as well as of the multitude. Hereafter we 
may find a good way to manage it." And in this resolu- 
tion the king and earl agreed (950). 


The harvest thereafter, towards the winter season, 
there was a festival of sacrifice at Hlader, and the king 
came to it. It had always been his custom before, when 
he was present at a place where there was sacrifice, to take 
his meals in a little house by himself, or with some few 



of his men ; but the bondes grumbled that he did not seat 
himself in his high-seat at these the most joyous of the 
meetings of the people. The earl said that the king 
should do so this time. The king accordingly sat upon 
his high-seat. Now when the first full goblet was filled, 
Earl Sigurd spoke some words over it, blessed it in 
Odin's name, and drank to the king out of the horn; 
and the king then took it, and made the sign of the cross 
over it. Then said Kar of Gryting, "What does the king 
mean by doing so ? Will he not sacrifice ?" Earl Sigurd 
replies, "The king is doing what all of you do, who trust 
to your power and strength. He is blessing the full gob- 
let in the name of Thor, by making the sign of his hanv 
mer over it before he drinks it." On this there was quiet- 
ness for the evening. The next day, when the people sat 
down to table, the bondes pressed the king strongly to 
eat of horse-flesh j 1 and as he would on no account do so, 
they wanted him to drink of the soup ; and as he would 
not do this, they insisted he should at least taste the gravy ; 
and on his refusal they were going to lay hands on him. 
Earl Sigurd came and made peace among them, by ask- 
ing the king to hold his mouth over the handle of the 
kettle, upon which the fat smoke of the boiled horse-flesh 
had settled itself ; and the king first laid a linen cloth over 
the handle, and then gaped over it, and returned to the 
high-seat; but neither party was satisfied with this. 

ir rhis eating of horse-flesh at these religious festivals was considered 
the most direct proof of paganism in the following times, and was 
punished by death or mutilation by Saint Olaf. It was a ceremony appar- 
ently commemorative of their Asiatic origin and ancestors. 



The winter thereafter the king prepared a Yule feast 
in More, and eight chiefs resolved with each other to 
meet at it. Four of them were from without the 
Throndhjem district namely, Kar of Gryting, Asbjorn 
of Medalhus, Thorberg of Varnes, and Orm from Ljoxa ; 
and from the Throndhjem district, Botolf of Olvishaug, 
Narfe of Staf in Veradal, Thrand Hak from Egg, and 
Thorer Skeg from Husaby in Eyin Idre. These eight 
men bound themselves, the four first to root out Chris- 
tianity in Norway, and the four others to oblige the king 
to offer sacrifice to the gods. The four first went in four 
ships southwards to More, and killed three priests, and 
burnt three churches, and then they returned. Now, 
when King Hakon and Earl Sigurd came to More with 
their court, the bondes assembled in great numbers; and 
immediately, on the first day of the feast, the bondes in- 
sisted hard with the king that he should offer sacrifice, 
and threatened him with violence if he refused. Earl 
Sigurd tried to make peace between them, and brought 
it so far that the king took some bits of horse-liver, and 
emptied all the goblets the bondes filled for him without 
the sign of the cross ; but as soon as the feast was over, 
the king and the earl returned to Hlader. The king was 
very ill pleased, and made himself ready to leave Thrond- 
hjem forthwith with all his people; saying that the next 
time he came to Throndhjem, he would come with such 
strength of men-at-arms that he would repay the bondes 
for their enmity towards him. Earl Sigurd entreated the 



king not to take it amiss of the bondes; adding, that it 
was not wise to threaten them, or to make war upon the 
people within the country, and especially in the Thrond- 
hjem district, where the strength of the land lay ; but the 
king was so enraged that he would not listen to a word 
from anybody. He went out from Throndhjem, and 
proceeded south to More, where he remained the rest of 
the winter, and on to the spring season (950) ; and when 
summer came he assembled men, and the report was that 
he intended with this army to attack the Throndhjem 


But just as the king had embarked with a great force 
of troops, the news was brought him from the south of 
the country, that King Eirik's sons had come from Den- 
mark to Viken and had driven King Trygve Olafson from 
his ships at Sotanes, and then had plundered far and wide 
around in Viken, and that many had submitted to them. 
Now when King Hakon heard this news, he thought that 
help was needed; and he sent word to Earl Sigurd, and 
to the other chiefs from whom he could expect help, to 
hasten to his assistance. Sigurd the earl came accord- 
ingly with a great body of men, among whom were all 
the Throndhjem people who had set upon him the hardest 
to offer sacrifice; and all made their peace with the king, 
by the earl's persuasion. Now King Hakon sailed south 
along the coast ; and when he came south as far as Stad, 
he heard that Eirik's sons were come to North Agder. 



Then they advanced against each other, and met at Kormt 
Both parties left their ships there, and gave battle at 
Ogvaldsnes. Both parties had a great force, and it 
was a great battle. King Hakon went forward bravely, 
and King Guthorm Eirikson met him with his troop, and 
they exchanged blows with each other. Guthorm fell, 
and his standard was cut down. Many people fell around 
him. The army of Eirik's sons then took flight to their 
ships, and rowed away with the loss of many a man. So 
says Guthorm Sindre: 

"The king's voice waked the silent Where loudest was the sword-blade's 

host clang, 

Who slept beside the wild sea-coast, By the sea-shore at Kormt Sound, 

And bade the song of spear and sword Hakon felled Guthorm to the 
Over the battle plain be heard. ground." 

Where heroes' shields the loudest 


Now King Hakon returned to his ships, and pursued 
Gunhild's sons. And both parties sailed all they could 
sail, until they came to East Adger, from whence Eirik's 
sons set out to sea, and southwards for Jutland (950). 
Guthorm Sindre speaks of it in his song : 

"And Guthorm's brothers too, who Well I remember how the King 

kn w Hakon, the battle's life and spring, 

So skilfully to bend the bow, O'er the wide ocean cleared away 

The conquering hand must also feel Eirik's brave sons. They durst not 

Of Hakon, god of the bright steel, stay, 

The sun-god, whose bright rays, that But round their ships' sides hung 
dart their shields, 

Flame-like, are swords that pierce And fled across the blue sea-fields." 
the heart. 

King Hakon returned then northwards to Norway, 
but Eirik's sons remained a long time in Denmark. 


King Hakon after this battle made a law, that all in- 
habited land over the whole country along the sea-coast, 



and as far back from it as the salmon swims up in the 
rivers, should be divided into ship-raths according to the 
districts; and it was fixed by law how many ships there 
should be from each district, and how great each should 
be, when the whole people were called out on service. 
For this outfit the whole inhabitants should be bound, 
whenever a foreign army came to the country. With 
this came also the order that beacons should be erected 
upon the hills, so that every man could see from the one 
to the other; and it is told that a war-signal could thus 
be given in seven days, from the most southerly beacon 
to the most northerly Thing-seat in Halogaland. 


Eirik's sons plundered much on the Baltic coasts, and 
sometimes, as before related, in Norway; but so long as 
Hakon ruled over Norway there was in general good 
peace, and good seasons, and he was the most beloved of 
kings. When Hakon had reigned about twenty years in 
Norway (954), Eirik's sons came from Denmark with a 
powerful army, of which a great part consisted of the 
people who had followed them on their expeditions; but 
a still greater army of Danes had been placed at their 
disposal by King Harald Gormson. They sailed with 
a fair wind from Vendil, and came to Agder; and then 
sailed northwards, night and day, along the coast. But 
the beacons were not fired, because it had been usual to 
look for them lighted from the east onwards, and nobody 
had observed them from the east coast ; and besides King 



Hakon had set heavy penalties for giving false alarm, 
by lighting the beacons without occasion. The reason of 
this was, that ships of war and vikings cruised about 
and plundered among the outlying islands, and the coun- 
try people took them for Eirik's sons, and lighted the 
beacons, and set the whole country in trouble and dread 
of war. Sometimes, no doubt, the sons of Eirik were 
there; but having only their own troops, and no Danish 
army with them, they returned to Denmark; and some- 
times these were other vikings. King Hakon was very 
angry at this, because it cost both trouble and money to 
no purpose. The bondes also suffered by these false 
alarms when they were given uselessly; and thus it hap- 
pened that no news of this expedition of Eirik's sons 
circulated through the land until they had come as far 
north as Ulfasund, where they lay for seven days. Then 
spies set off across Eid and northwards to More. King 
Hakon was at that time in the island Frede, in North 
More, at a place called Birkistrand, where he had a dwell- 
ing-house, and had no troops with him, only his body- 
guard or court, and the neighbouring bondes he had in- 
vited to his house. 


The spies came to King Hakon, and told him that 
Eirik's sons, with a great army, lay just to the south of 
Stad. Then he called together the most understanding 
of the men about him, and asked their opinion, whether 
he should fight with Eirik's sons, although they had such 



a great multitude with them, or should set off northwards 
to gather together more men. Now there was a bonde 
there, by name Egil Ulserk, who was a very old man, 
but in former days had been strong and stout beyond most 
men, and a hardy man-at-arms withal, having long car- 
ried King Harald Harfager's banner. Egil answered 
thus to the king's speech, "I was in several battles with 
thy father Harald the king, and he gave battle sometimes 
with many, sometimes with few people; but he always 
came off with victory. Never did I hear him ask counsel 
of his friends whether he should fly and neither shalt 
thou get any such counsel from us, king ; but as we know 
we have a brave leader, thou shalt get a trusty following 
from us." Many others agreed with this speech, and the 
king himself declared he was most inclined to fight with 
such strength as they could gather. It was so deter- 
mined. The king split up a war-arrow, which he sent off 
in all directions, and by that token a number of men was 
collected in all haste. Then said Egil Ulserk, "At one 
time the peace had lasted so long I was afraid I might 
come to die the death of old age, 1 within doors upon a 
bed of straw, although I would rather fall in battle fol- 
lowing my chief. And now it may so turn out in the end 
as I wished it to be." 


Eirik's sons sailed northwards around Stad, as soon 
as the wind suited ; and when they had passed it, and heard 

1 In all the sagas of this pagan time, the dying on a bed of sickness 
is mentioned as a kind of derogatory end of a man of any celebrity. L. 

7 87 


where King Hakon was, they sailed to meet him. King 
Hakon had nine ships, with which he lay under Fredar- 
berg in Feeysund; and Eirik's sons had twenty ships, 
with which they brought up on the south side of the 
same cape, in Feeysund. King Hakon sent them a mes- 
sage, asking them to go upon the land ; and telling them 
that he had hedged in with hazel boughs a place of com- 
bat at Rastarkalf, where there is a flat large field, at the 
foot of a long and rather low ridge. Then Eirik's sons 
left their ships, and went northwards over the neck of land 
within Fredarberg, and onward to Rastarkalf. Then 
Egil asked King Hakon to give him ten men with ten 
banners, and the king did so. Then Egil went with his 
men under the ridge ; but King Hakon went out upon the 
open field with his army, and set up his banner, and drew 
up his army, saying, "Let us draw up in a long line, that 
they may not surround us, as they have the most men/' 
And so it was done ; and there was a severe battle, and a 
very sharp attack. Then Egil Ulserk set up the ten ban- 
ners he had with him, and placed the men who carried 
them so that they should go as near the summit of the 
ridge as possible, and leaving a space between each of 
them. They went so near the summit that the^ banners 
could be seen over it, and moved on as if they were com- 
ing behind the army of Eirik's sons. Now when the 
men who stood uppermost in the line of the troops of 
Eirik's sons saw so many flying banners advancing high 
over the edge of the ridge, they supposed a great force 
must be following, who would come behind their army, 
and between them and their ships. They made each other 



acquainted with what was going 1 on in a loud shout, and 
the whole took to flight; and when the king saw it, they 
fled with the rest. King Hakon now pushes on briskly 
with his people, pursuing the flying, and killing many. 


When Gamle Eirikson came up the ridge of the hill 
he turned round, and he observed that not more people 
were following than his men had been engaged with al- 
ready, and he saw it was but a stratagem of war; so he 
ordered the war-horns to be blown, his banner to be set 
up, and he put his men in battle order. On this, all his 
Northmen stood, and turned with him^ but the Danes 
fled to the ships; and when King Hakon and his men 
came thither, there was again a sharp conflict; but now 
Hakon had most people. At last the Eirik's sons' force 
fled, and took the road south about the hill ; but a part of 
their army retreated upon the hill southwards, followed by 
King Hakon. There is a flat field east of the ridge which 
runs westward along the range of hills, and is bounded 
on its west side by a steep ridge. Gamle' s men retreated 
towards this ground ; but Hakon followed so closely that 
he killed some, and others ran west over the ridge, and 
were killed on that side of it. King Hakon did not part 
with them till the last man of them was killed. 


Gamle Eirikson fled from the ridge down upon the 
plain to the south of the hill. There he turned himself 



again, and waited until more people gathered to him. All 
his brothers, and many troops of their men, assembled 
there. Egil Ulserk was in front, and in advance of 
Hakon's men, and made a stout attack. He and King 
Gamle exchanged blows with each other, and King 
Gamle got a grievous wound; but Egil fell, and many 
people with him. Then came Hakon the king with the 
troops which had followed him, and a new battle began. 
King Hakon pushed on, cutting down men on both sides 
of him, and killing the one upon the top of the other. So 
sings Guthorm Sindre: 

"Scared by the sharp sword's sing- And the king's banner ever flies 

ing sound, Where the spear-forests thickest rise. 

Brandished in air. the foe gave Altho' the king had gained of old 

ground. Enough of Freyja's tears of gold, 1 

The boldest warrior cannot stand He spared himself no more than tho' 

Before King Hakon's conquering He'd had no well-filled purse to 
hand ; show." 

When Eirik's sons saw their men falling all round, they 
turned and fled to their ships ; but those who had sought 
the ships before had pushed off some of them from the 
land, while some of them were still hauled up and on the 
strand. Now the sons of Eirik and their men plunged 
into the sea, and betook themselves to swimming. Gamle 
Eirikson was drowned; but the other sons of Eirik 
reached their ships, and set sail with what men remained. 
They steered southwards to Denmark, where they stopped 
a while, very ill satisfied with their expedition. 

Treyja's husband was Od ; and her tears, when she wept at the long 
absence of her husband, were tears of gold. Od's wife's tears is the 
skald's expression here for gold understood, no doubt, as readily as any 
allusion to Plutus would convey the equivalent meaning in modern 
poetry. L. 



King Hakon took all the ships of the sons of Eirik 
that had been left upon the strand, and had them drawn 
quite up, and brought on the land. Then he ordered that 
Egil Ulserk, and all the men of his army who had fallen, 
should be laid in the ships, and covered entirely over with 
earth and stones. King Hakon made many of the ships 
to be drawn up to the field of battle, and the hillocks over 
them are to be seen to the present day a little to the south 
of Fredarberg. At the time when King Hakon was 
killed, when Glum Geirason, in his song, boasted of King 
Hakon's fall, Eyvind Skaldaspiller composed these verses 
on this battle: 

"Our dauntless king with Gamle's Proud swelled our warriors' hearts 

gore when he 

Sprinkled his bright sword o'er and Drove Eirik's sons out to the sea, 

o'er; With all their Gautland host: but 
Sprinkled the gag that holds the now 

mouth Our warriors weep Hakon lies 
Of the fell demon Fenriswolf. 1 low !" 

High standing stones mark Egil Uslerk's grave. 


When King Hakon, Athelstan's foster-son, had been 
king for twenty-six years after his brother Eirik had left 
the country, it happened (960) that he was at a feast in 
Hordaland in the house at Fitjar on the island Stord, 
and he had with him at the feast his court and many of 
the peasants. And just as the king was seated at the 
supper-table, his watchmen who were outside observed 

Fenriswolf, one of the children of Loke, begotten with a gaintess, 
was chained to a rock, and gagged by a sword placed in his mouth, to 
prevent him devouring mankind. Fenriswolf's gag is a skaldic expression 
for a sword. L. 

9 1 


many ships coming sailing along from the south", and 
not very far from the island. Now, said the one to the 
other, they should inform the king that they thought an 
armed force was coming against them ; but none thought 
it advisable to be the bearer of an alarm of war to the 
king, as he had set heavy penalties on those who raised 
such alarms falsely, yet they thought it unsuitable that 
the king should remain in ignorance of what they saw. 
Then one of them went into the room and asked Eyvind 
Finson to come out as fast as possible, for it was very 
needful. Eyvind immediately came out and went to 
where he could see the ships, and saw directly that a 
great army was on the way; and he returned in all haste 
into the room, and, placing himself before the king, said, 
"Short is the hour for acting, and long the hour for 
feasting." The king cast his eyes upon him, and said, 
"What now is in the way?" Eyvind said 

"Up king ! the avengers are at hand ! To bring war-tidings to the king, 

Eirik's bold sons approach the land ! And tell him 'tis no time to rest. 

The judgment of the sword they crave Up ! gird your armour to your breast : 

Against their foe. Thy wrath I brave ; Thy honour's dearer than my life ; 

Tho' well I know 'tis no light thing Therefore I say, up to the strife !" 

Then said the king, "Thou art too brave a fellow, Eyvind, 
to bring us any false alarm of war." The others all said 
it was a true report. The king ordered the tables to be 
removed, and then he went out to look at the ships ; and 
when it could be clearly seen that these were ships of war, 
the king asked his men what resolution they should take 
whether to give battle with the men they had, or go on 
board ship and sail away northwards along the land. 
"For it is easy to see," said he, "that we must now fight 



against a much greater force than we ever had against 
us before; although we thought just the same the last 
time we fought against Gunhild's sons." No one was in 
a hurry to give an answer to the king ; but at last Ey vind 
replied to the king's speech : 

"Thou who in the battle-plain 
Hast often poured the sharp spear- 
rain ! 

Ill it beseems our warriors brave 
To fly upon the ocean wave : 
To fly upon the blue wave north, 
When Harald fronj the south comes 

With many a ship riding in pride 
Upon the foaming ocean-tide ; 
With many a ship and southern 

Let us take shield in hand, brave 

king !" 

The king replied, "Thy counsel, Eyvind, is manly, and 
after my own heart ; but I will hear the opinion of others 
upon this matter." Now as the king's men thought they 
discerned what way the king was inclined to take, they 
answered that they would rather fall bravely and like 
men, than fly before the Danes; adding, that they had 
often gained the victory against greater odds of num- 
bers. The king thanked them for their resolution, and 
bade them arm themselves ; and all the men did so. The 
king put on his armour, and girded on his sword Kvern- 
bit, and put a gilt helmet upon his head, and took a 
spear (Kesja) in his hand, and a shield by his side. He 
then drew up his courtmen and the bondes in one body, 
and set up his banner. 


After Gamle's death King Harald, Eirik's son, was 
the chief of the brothers, and he had a great army with 
him from Denmark. In their army were also their moth- 



er's brothers, Eyvind Skreyja, and Alf Askman, both 
strong- and able men, and great man slayers. The sons 
of Eirik brought up with their ships off the island, and 
it is said that their force was not less than six to one, 
so much stronger in men were Eirik's sons. 


When King Hakon had drawn up his men, it is told 
of him that he threw off his armour before the battle be- 
gan. So sings Eyvind Skaldaspiller, in Hakmarmal. : 

"They found Biorn's brother bold Amidst his guards ; but the brave 
Under his banner as of old, king 

Ready for battle. Foes advance, Scorned to wear armour, while his 
The front rank raise the shining men 

lance ; Bared naked breasts against the rain 

And now begins the bloody fray ! Of spear and arrow. Off he flung 

Now ! now begins Hild's wild play ! His coat of mail., his breast-plate 
Our noble king, whose name strikes rung 

fear Against the stones ; and, blithe and 
Into each Danish heart, whose gay, 

spear He rushed into the thickest fray. 

Has single-handed spilt the blood With golden helm, and naked breast, 

Of many a Danish noble, stood Brave Hakon played at slaughter's 
Beneath his helmet's eagle wing feast." 

King Hakon selected willingly such men for his guard 
or court-men as were distinguished for their strength and 
bravery, as his father King Harald also used to do; and 
among these was Thoralf Skolmson the Strong, who 
went on one side of the king. He had helmet and shield, 
spear and sword; and his sword was called by the name 
of Footbreadth. It was said that Thoralf and King 
Hakon were equal in strength. Thord Sjarekson speaks 
of it in the poem he composed concerning Thoralf : 

"The king's men went with merry Next to the Northmen's hero came, 

words Scattering wide round the battle 
To the sharp clash of shields and flame 

_., swords, For in the storm of shields not one 

When these wild rovers of the sea Ventured like him with brave 
At Fitjar fought. Stout Thoralf he Hakon." 



When both lines met there was a hard combat, and much 
bloodshed. The combatants threw their spears and then 
drew their swords. Then King Hakon, and Thoralf 
with him, went in advance of the banner, cutting- down 
on both sides of them. So says Eyvind Skaldaspiller : 

"The body-coats of linked steel, 
The woven iron coats of mail, 
Like water fly before the swing 
Of Hakon's sword the champion- 

About each Gotland war-man's head 
Helm splits, like ice beneath the 

Cloven by the axe or sharp sword- 

The brave king, foremost in the fight, 
Dyes crimson-red the spotless white 
Of his bright shield with foemen's 


Amidst the battle's wild uproar. 
Wild pealing round from shore to 

31. - 


King Hakon was very conspicuous among other men, 
and also when the sun shone his helmet glanced, and 
thereby many weapons were directed at him. Then 
Eyvind Finson took a hat and put it over the king's hel- 
met. Now Eyvind Skreyja called out, "Does the king 
of the Norsemen hide himself, or has he fled? Where 
is now the golden helmet?" Then Eyvind, and his 
brother Alf with him, pushed on like fools or madmen. 
King Hakon shouted to Eyvind, "Come on as thou art 
coming, and thou shalt find the king of the Norsemen." 
So says Eyvind Skaldaspiller: 

"The raiser of the storm of shields, 
The conqueror in battle fields, 
Hakon the brave, the warrior's friend, 
Who scatters gold with liberal hand, 
Heard Skreyja's taunt, and saw him 

Amidst the sharp spears' thickest 


And loudly shouted in reply 
'If thou wilt for the victory try, 
The Norseman's king thou soon shalt 

Hold onwards, friend ! Hast thou a 

mind !' " 

It was also but a short space of time before Eyvind 
did come up swinging his sword, and made a cut at the 



king; but Thoralf thrust his shield so hard against Eyvind 
that he tottered with the shock. Now the king takes his 
sword Kvernbit with both hands, and hewed Eyvind 
through helm and head, and clove him down to the shoul- 
ders. Thoralf also slew Alf Askman. So says Eyvind 
Skaldaspiller : 

"With both his hands the gallant When the ship's side beats on the 

king rock. 

Swung round his sword, and to the By his bright sword with golden haft 

chin Thro' helm, and head, and hair, was 
Clove Eyvind down : his faithless cleft 

mail The Danish champion ; and amain, 

Against it could no more avail, With terror smitten, fled his men." 
Than the thin plank against the shock 

After this fall of the two brothers, King Hakon 
pressed on so hard that all men gave way before his as- 
sault. Now fear came over the army of Eirik's sons, 
and the men began to fly ; and King Hakon, who was at 
the head of his men, pressed on the flying, and hewed 
down oft and hard. Then flew an arrow, one of the 
kind called flein, into Hakon's arm, into the muscles be- 
low the shoulder ; and it is said by many people that Gun- 
hild's shoe-boy, whose name was Kisping, ran out and 
forwards amidst the confusion of arms, called out "Make 
room for the king-killer," and shot King Hakon with the 
flein. Others again say that nobody could tell who shot 
the king, which is indeed the most likely ; for spears, ar- 
rows, and all kinds of missiles flew as thick as a snow- 
drift. Many of the people of Eirik's sons were killed, 
both on the field of battle and on the way to the ships, 
and also on the strand, and many threw themselves into 
the water. Many also, among whom were Eirik's sons, 
got on board their ships, and rowed away as fast as they 



could, and Hakon's men after them. So says Thord 
Sjarekson : 

"The wolf, the murderer, and the 


Fled from before the people's chief : 
Few breakers of the peace grew old 
Under the Northmen's king so bold. 
When gallant Hakon lost his life 
Black was the day, and dire the strife. 
It was bad work for Gunhild's sons, 
Leading their pack of hungry Danes 
From out the south, to have to fly, 

And many a bonde leave to die, 
Leaning his heavy wounded head 
On the oar-bench for feather-bed. 
Thoralf was nearest to the side 
Of gallant Hakon in the tide 
Of battle ; his the sword that best 
Carved out the raven's bloody feast : 
Amidst the heaps of foemen slain 
He was named bravest on the plain.' 


When King Hakon came out to his ship he had his 
wound bound up ; but the blood ran from it so much and 
so constantly, that it could not be stopped ; and when the 
day was drawing to an end his strength began to leave 
him. Then he told his men that he wanted to go north- 
wards to his house at Alreksstader ; but when he came 
north, as far as Hakonarhella Hill, they put in towards 
the land, for by this time the king was almost lifeless. 
Then he called his friends around him, and told them 
what he wished to be done with regard to his kingdom. 
He had only one child, a daughter, called Thora, and had 
no son. Now he told them to send a message to Eirik's 
sons, that they should be kings over the country; but 
asked them to hold his friends in respect and honour. 
"And if fate," added he, "should prolong my life, I will, 
at any rate, leave the country, and go to a Christian land, 
and do penance for what I have done against God; but 
should I die in heathen land, give me any burial you think 
fit." Shortly afterwards Hakon expired, at the little 
hill on the shore-side at which he was born. So great 



was the sorrow over Hakon's death, that he was lamented 
both by friends and enemies; and they said that never 
again would Norway see such a king. His friends re- 
moved his body to Saeheim, in North Hordaland, and 
made a great mound, in which they laid the king in full 
armour and in his best clothes, but with no other goods. 
They spoke over his grave, as heathen people are used 
to do ? and wished him in Valhal. Eyvind Skaldaspiller 
composed a poem on the death of King Hakon, and on 
how well he was received in Valhal. The poem is called 
"Hakonarmal :" 

"In Odin's hall an empty place 
Stands for a king of Yngve's race ; 
'Go, my valkyries,' Odin said, 
'Go forth, my angels of the dead, 
Gondul and Skogul, to the plain 
Drenched with the battle's bloody 


And to the dying Hakon tell, 
Here in Valhal shall he dwell.' 

"At Stord, so late a lonely shore, 
Was heard the battle's wild uproar ; 
The lightning of the flashing sword 
Burned fiercely at the shore of Stord. 
From levelled halberd and spear- 
Life-blood was dropping fast and 

red ; 

And the keen arrows' biting sleet 
Upon the shore at Stord fast beat. 

"Upon the thundering cloud of shield 
Flashed bright the sword-storm o'er 

the field ; 

And on the plate-mail rattled loud 
The arrow-shower's rushing cloud, 
In Odin's tempest-weather, there 
Swift whistling through the angry 

air ; 

And the spear-torrents swept away 
Ranks of brave men from light of day. 

"With batter'd shield, and blood- 

smear'd sword, 

Sits one beside the shore of Stord, 
With armour crushed and gashed 

sits he, 
A grim and ghastly sight to see ; 

And round about in sorrow stand 
The warriors of his gallant band : 
Because the king of Dags' old race 
In Odin's hall must fill a place. 

"Then up spake Gondul, standing 


Resting upon her long ash spear, 
'Hakon ! the gods' cause prospers 


And thou in Odin's halls shalt dwell !' 
The king beside the shore of Stord 
The speech of the valkyrie heard, 
Who sat there on his coal-black 

With shield on arm and helm on 


"Thoughtful, said Hakon, 'Tell me 


Ruler of battles, victory 
Is so dealt out on Stord's red plain? 
Have we not well deserved to gain?' 
'And is it not as well dealt out?' 
Said Gondul. 'Hearest thou not the 

The field is cleared the foemen 

The day is ours the battle won !' 

"Then Skogul said, 'My coal-black 


Home to the gods I now must speed, 
To their green home, to tell the tiding 
That Hakon's self is thither riding.' 
To Hermod and to Brage then 
Said Odin, 'Here, the first of men, 
Brave Hakon comes, the Norsemen's 

Go forth, my welcome to him bring.' 


"Fresh from the battle-field came in, 
Dripping with blood, the Norsemen's 


'Methinks,' said he, 'great Odin's will 
Is harsh, and bodes me further ill : 
Thy son from off the field to-day 
From victory to snatch away !' 
But Odin said, 'Be thine the joy 
Valhal gives, my own brave boy !' 

"And Brage said, 'Eight brothers 


Welcome thee to Valhal's cheer, 
To drain the cup, or fights repeat 
Where Hakon Eirik's earls beat.' 
Quoth the stout king, 'And shall my 

Helm, sword, and mail-coat, axe and 


Be still at hand ! 'Tis good to hold 
Fast by our trusty friends of old.' 

"Well was it seen that Hakon still 
Had saved the temples from all ill ;* 
For the whole council of the gods 
Welcomed the king to their abodes. 
Happy the day when men are born 
Like Hakon, who all base things 

Win from the brave an honoured 

And die amidst an endless fame. 

"Sooner shall Fenriswolf devour 
The race of man from shore to shore, 
Than such a grace to kingly crown 
As gallant Hakon want renown. 
Life, land, friends, riches, all will fly, 
And we in slavery shall sigh. 
But Hakon in the blessed abodes 
For ever lives with the bright gods." 

TOakon, although a Christian, appears to have favoured the old 
religion, and spared the temples of Odin, and therefore a place in Valhal 
Is assigned him. L. 




THIS saga might be called Gunhild's Saga, as she is the chief 
person in it. The reign of King Harald and Earl Hakon is more 
fully described in the next saga, that is, Olaf Trygvason's. Other 
literature on this epoch: 

Agrip (chap. 8). Historia Norvegise (p. 12). Thjodrek (chap. 5). 
Saxo (pp. 479-482). Bgla (chaps. 81, 82). Floamanna (chap. 12). 
Fareyinga (chaps. 2, 4, 10). Halfred's Saga chap. 2). Hord Grimkelsons 
Saga (chaps. 13, 18). Kormak (chaps. 19-27). Laxdsela (chaps. 19-21). 
Njala (chaps, 3-6). 

The skalds of this saga are: Glum Geirason, Kormak 
Agmundson, Eyvind Skaldaspiller, and Einar Helgason Skalaglam. 


When King Hakon was killed, the sons of Eirik took 
the sovereignty of Norway. Harald, who was the oldest 
of the living brothers, was over them in dignity. Their 
mother Gunhild, who was called the King-mother, mixed 
herself much in the affairs of the country. There were 
many chiefs in the land at that time. There was Trygve 
Olafson in the Eastland, Gudrod Bjornson in Vestfold, 
Sigurd earl of Hlader in the Throndhjem land ; but Gun- 
hild's sons held the middle of the country the first winter. 
There went messages and ambassadors between Gun- 
hild's sons and Trygve and Gudrod, and all was settled 
upon the footing that they should hold from Gunhild's 
sons the same part of the country which they formerly 
had held under King Hakon. A man called Glum Geirason, 



who was King HaralcTs skald, and was a very brave man, 
made this song- upon King Hakon's death : 

"Gamle is avenged by Harald ! 
Great is thy deed, thou champion 

The rumour of it came to me 

In distant lands beyond the sea, 
How Harald gave King Hakon'a 

To Odin's ravens for their food." 

This song was much favoured. When Eyvind Finson 
heard of it he composed the song which was given be- 
fore, viz. : 

"Our dauntless king with Gamle's 

Sprinkled his bright sword o'er and 
o'er," &c. 

This song also was much favoured, and was spread 
widely abroad; and when King Harald came to hear of 
it, he laid a charge against Evyind affecting his life ; but 
friends made up the quarrel, on the condition that Eyvind 
should in future be Harald' s skald, as he had formerly 
been King Hakon's. There was also some relationship 
between them, as Gunhild, Eyvind's mother, was a daugh- 
ter of Earl Halfdan, and her mother was Ingibjorg, a 
daughter of Harald Harfager. Thereafter Eyvind made 
a song about King Harald : 

"Guardian of Norway, well we know 
Thy heart failed not when from the 


The piercing arrow-hail sharp rang 
On shield and breast-plate, and the 


Gunhild's sons resided mostly in the middle of the coun- 
try, for they did not think it safe for them to dwell among 
the people of Throndhjem or of Viken, where King 
Hakon's best friends lived; and also in both places there 
were many powerful men. Proposals of agreement then 
passed between Gunhild's sons and Earl Sigurd, for they 
got no scat from the Throndhjem country; and at last 

Of sword resounded in the press 
Of battle, like the splitting ice ; 
For Harald, wild wolf of the wood, 
Must drink his fill of foeman's blood." 



an agreement was concluded between the kings and the 
earl, and confirmed by oath. Earl Sigurd was to get the 
same power in the Throndhjem land which he had pos- 
sessed under King Hakon, and on that they considered 
themselves at peace. All Gunhild's sons had the character 
of being penurious ; and it was said they hid their money 
in the ground. Eyvind Skaldaspiller made a song about 
this : 

"Main-mast of battle ! Harald bold ! The wealth which Hakon far and 

In Hakon's days the skald wore gold wide 

Upon his falcon's seat ; he wore Scattered with generous hand : the 

Rolf Krake's seed, the yellow ore, sun 

Sown by him as he fled away, Shone in the days of that great one, 

The avenger Adils' speed to stay. On the gold band of Fulla's brow, 2 

The gold crop grows upon. the plain ; On gold-ringed hands that bend the 

But Frode's girls so gay 1 in vain bow, 

Grind out the golden meal, while On the skald's hand ; but of the ray 

those Of bright gold, glancing like the spray 

Who rule o'er Norway's realm like Of sun-lit waves, no skald now 

foes, sings 

In mother earth's old bosom hide Buried are golden chains and rings." 

Now when King Harald heard this song, he sent a 
message to Eyvind to come to him, and when Eyvind 
came made a charge against him of being unfaithful. "And 
it ill becomes thee," said the king, "to be my enemy, as 
thou hast entered into my service." Eyvind then made 
these verses : 

"One lord I had before thee, Harald ! To my good king, and him alone. 

One dear-loved lord ! Now am I old, But now I'm old and useless grown, 

And do not wish to change again, My hands are empty, wealth is flown ; 

To that loved lord, through strife I am but fit for a short space 

and pain, In thy court-hall to fill a place." 
Faithful I stood; still true to 


But King Harald forced Eyvind to submit himself to 
his clemency. Eyvind had a great gold ring, which 

*Menja and Fenja were strong girls of the giant race, whom Frode 
bought in Sweden to grind gold and good luck to him ; and their meal 
means gold. L. 

was one of Frig's attendants, who wore a gold band on the 
forehead ; and the figure means gold, that the sun shone on gold rings 
on the hands of the skalds in Hakon's days. L. 



was called Molde, that had been dug up out of the earth 
long since. This ring the king said he must have as the 
mulct for the offence ; and there was no help for it. Then 
Eyvind sang : 

"I go across the ocean-foam, 
Swift skating to my Iceland home 
Upon the ocean-skates, fast driven 
By gales by Thurse's witch-wife 

For from the falcon-bearing hand 
Ha raid has plucked the gold snake 


My father wore by lawless might 
Has taken what is mine by right." 

Eyvind went home ; but it is not told that he ever came 
near the king again. 


Gunhild's sons embraced Christianity in England, as 
told before; but when they came to rule over Norway 
they made no progress in spreading Christianity only 
they pulled down the temples of the idols, and cast away 
the sacrifices where they had it in their power, and raised 
great animosity by doing so. The good crops of the coun- 
try were soon wasted in their days, because there were 
many kings, and each had his court about him. They 
had therefore great expenses, and were very greedy. 
Besides, they only observed those laws of King Hakon 
which suited themselves. They were, however, all of 
them remarkably handsome men stout, strong, and 
expert in all exercises. So says Glum Geirason, in the 
verses he composed about Harald, Gunhild's son : 

teeth 1 enough In 

"The foeman's terror, Harald bold, 
Had gained enough of yellow gold ; 

Had Heimdal's 

And understood twelve arts or more." 

The brothers sometimes went out on expeditions 
together, and sometimes each on his own account. They 

^eimdal was one of the gods, whose horse was called Gold-top ; and 
the horse's teeth were of gold. 

8 103 


were fierce, but brave and active; and great warriors, 
and very successful. 


Gunhild the King-mother, and her sons, often met, and 
talked together upon the government of the country. 
Once Gunhild asked her sons what they intended to do 
with their kingdom of Throndhjem. "Ye have the title 
of king, as your forefathers had before you ; but ye have 
little land or people, and there are many to divide with. 
In the East, at Viken, there are Trygve and Gudrod ; and 
they have some right, from relationship, to their govern- 
ments. There is besides Earl Sigurd ruling over the 
whole Throndhjem country; and no reason can I see why 
ye let so large a kingdom be ruled by an earl, and not by 
yourselves. It appears wonderful to me that ye go every 
summer upon viking cruises against other lands, and allow 
an earl within the country to take your father's heritage 
from you. Your grandfather, whose name you bear, 
King Harald, thought it but a small matter to take an 
earl's life and land when he subdued all Norway, and held 
it under him to old age." 

Harald replied, "It is not so easy, mother, to cut off 
Earl Sigurd as to slay a kid or a calf. Earl Sigurd is of 
high birth, powerful in relations, popular, and prudent; 
and I think if the Throndhjem people knew for certain 
there was enmity between us, they would all take his 
side, and we could expect only evil from them. I don't 
think it would be safe for any of us brothers to fall into 
the hands of the Throndhjem people." 


nhsbnulq js T /[T 
i^BP Jwo rtdvnb 


w ad bljjow 
biuow srf 

rfiXiavH .mob 

but brave and active; and great warriors, 



uhild the King-mother, and ! often met, and 

1 together upon the government of the country. 
Once Gunhild asked her sons \v' intended to do 

with their kingdom of Throndhi uive the title 

of kiii|^ft^c^NfeWl^f^-aBkER OF SOIfcL,V>&fcr>E*ave 
little land or peojfe a.jj& w foer aj#. mtin%> divide with. 



refuge tin Jditolgv<fifriflh 



The aged hermit penetrated 

he would recove* i-n seven nights 

tereupon foe aptz 
os P ll^ 


ald, thought it but a small matter 
life and land when he subdued all Norway, and held 
it Viii;ier him to old age.'* 

s not j>c easy, mother, to cut off 

a kid or a calf. Earl Sigurd is of 

i relations, popular, and prudent; 

'lirondhjem people knew for certain 

ween us, they would all take his 

Kpcct only evil from them. I don't 

? for any of us brothers to fall into 

the hands of the Throndhjem people/' 



Then said Gunhild, "We shall go to work another 
way, and not put ourselves forward. Harald and Erling 
shall come in harvest to North More, and there I shall 
meet you, and we shall consult together what is to be 
done." This was done. 


Earl Sigurd had a brother called Grjotgard, who was 
much younger, and much less respected ; in fact, was held 
in no title of honour. He had many people, however, 
about him, and in summer went on viking cruises, and 
gathered to himself property. Now King Harald sent 
messengers to Throndhjem with offers of friendship, and 
with presents. The messengers declared that King Harald 
was willing to be on the same friendly terms with the 
earl that King Hakon had been : adding, that they wished 
the earl to come to King Harald, that their friendship 
might be put on a firm footing. The Earl Sigurd 
received well the king's messengers and friendly message, 
but said that on account of his many affairs he could not 
come to the king. He sent many friendly gifts, and many 
glad and grateful words to the king, in return for his 
friendship. With this reply the messengers set off, and 
went to Grjotgard, for whom they had the same 
message, and brought him good presents, and offered 
him King Harald's friendship, and invited him to visit the 
king. Grjotgard promised to come ; and at the appointed 
time he paid a visit to King Harald and Gunhild, and 
was received in the most friendly manner. They treated 
him on the most intimate footing, so that Grjotgard had 



access to their private consultations and secret councils. 
At last the conversation, by an understanding between 
the king and queen, was turned upon Earl Sigurd; and 
they spoke to Grjotgard about the earl having kept him 
so long in obscurity, and asked him if he would not join 
the king's brothers in an attack on the earl. If he would 
join with them, the king promised Grjotgard that he 
should be his earl, and have the same government that 
Sigurd had. It came so far that a secret agreement was 
made between them, that Grjotgard should spy out the 
most favourable opportunity of attacking by surprise Earl 
Sigurd, and should give King Harald notice of it. After 
this agreement Grjotgard returned home with many 
good presents from the king. 


Earl Sigurd went in harvest into Stjoradal to guest- 
quarters, and from thence went to Oglo to a feast. The 
earl usually had many people about him, for he did not 
trust the king; but now, after friendly messages had 
passed between the king and him, he had no great follow- 
ing of people with him. Then Grjotgard sent word to 
the king that he could never expect a better opportunity 
to fall upon Earl Sigurd; and immediately, that very 
evening, Harald and Erling sailed into Throndhjem fjord 
with several ships and many people. They sailed all 
night by starlight, and Grjotgard came out to meet them. 
Late in the night they came to Oglo, where Earl Sigurd 
was at the feast, and set fire to the house; and burnt the 
house, the earl, and all his men. As soon as it was day- 



light, they set out through the fjord, and south to More, 
where they remained a long time. 


Hakon, the son of Earl Sigurd, was up in the interior 
of the Throndhjem country when he heard this news. 
Great was the tumult through all the Throndhjem land, 
and every vessel that could swim was put into the water ; 
and as soon as the people were gathered together they 
took Earl Sigurd's son Hakon to be their earl and the 
leader of the troops, and the whole body steered out of 
Throndhjem fjord. When Gunhild's sons heard of this, 
they set off southwards to Raumsdal and South More ; and 
both parties kept eye on each other by their spies. Earl 
Sigurd was killed two years after the fall of King 
Hakon (962). So says Eyvind Skaldaspiller in the 

"At Oglo, as I've heard, Earl Sigurd In Oglo's hall, amidst the feast, 

Was burnt to death by Norway's When bowls went round and ale 

lord, flowed fast, 

Sigurd, who onoe on Hadding's grave He perished : Harald lit the fire 

A feast to Odin's ravens gave. Which burnt to death the son of Tyr." 

Earl Hakon, with the help of his friends, maintained 
himself in the Throndhjem country for three years; and 
during that time (963-965) Gunhild's sons got no 
revenues from it. Hakon had many a battle with Gun- 
hild's sons, and many a man lost his life on both sides. 
Of this Einar Skalaglam speaks in his lay, called "Vell- 
ekla," which he composed about Earl Hakon : 

"The sharp bow-shooter on the sea O'er the well-trampled battle-field 

Spread wide his fleet, for well loved He raised the red-tnoon of his shield ; 

he And often dared King Eirik's son 

The battle storm ; well loved the earl To try the fray with the Barl 
His battle-banner to unfurl. Hakon," 


And he also says :- 

"Who is the man who'll dare to say 
That Sigurd's son avoids the fray? 
He gluts the raven he ne'er fears 
The arrow's song or flight of spears. 
With thundering sword he storms in 

As Odin dreadful ; or from far 

He makes the arrow- shower fly 
To swell the sail of victory. 
The victory was dearly bought, 
And many a viking-fight was fought 
Before the swinger of the sword 
Was of the eastern country lord." 

And Einar tells also how Earl Hakon avenged his 
father's murderer : 

On him and his men in the strife. 
To Odin many a soul was driven, 
To Odin many a rich gift given. 
Loud raged the storm on battle- 
Axe rang on helm, and sword on 

"I praise the man, my hero he, 
Who in his good ship roves the sea, 
Like bird of prey, intent to win 
Red vengeance for his slaughtered 


From his blue sword the iron rain 
That freezes life poured down amain 
On him who took his father's life, 

The friends on both sides at last laid themselves 
between, and brought proposals of peace; for the bondes 
suffered by this strife and war in the land. At last it 
was brought to this, by the advice of prudent men, that 
Earl Hakon should have the same power in the Thrond- 
hjem land which his father Earl Sigurd had enjoyed ; and 
the kings, on the other hand, should have the same 
dominion as King Hakon had: and this agreement was 
settled with the fullest promises of fidelity to it. After- 
wards a great friendship arose between Earl Hakon and 
Gunhild, although they sometimes attempted to deceive 
each other. And thus matters stood for three years 
longer (966-968), in which time Earl Hakon sat quietly 
in his dominions. 


King Hakon had generally his seat in Hordaland and 
Rogaland, and also his brothers ; but very often, also, they 



went to Hardanger. One summer it happened that a 
vessel came from Iceland belonging to Icelanders, and 
loaded with skins and peltry. They sailed to Hardanger, 
where they heard the greatest number of people were 
assembled; but when the folks came to deal with them, 
nobody would buy their skins. Then the steersman went 
to King Harald, whom he had been acquainted with 
before, and complained of his ill luck. The king promised 
to visit him, and did so. King Harald was very conde- 
scending, and full of fun. He came with a fully manned 
boat, looked at the skins, and then said to the steersman, 
"Wilt thou give me a present of one of these gray-skins?" 
"Willingly," said the steersman, "if it were ever so many." 
On this the king wrapped himself up in a gray-skin, and 
went back to his boat ; but before they rowed away from 
the ship, every man in his suite bought such another 
skin as the king wore for himself. In a few days so 
many people came to buy skins, that not half of them 
could be served with what they wanted; and thereafter 
the king was called Harald Graf eld (Grayskin), 


Earl Hakon came one winter to the Uplands to a feast, 
and it so happened that he had intercourse with a girl of 
mean birth. Some time after the girl had to prepare for 
her confinement; and she bore a child, a boy, who had 
water poured on him, and was named Eirik. The mother 
carried the boy to Earl Hakon, and said that he was the 
father. The earl placed him to be brought up with a 
man called Thorleif the Wise, who dwelt in Medaldal, 



and was a rich and powerful man, and a great friend of 
the earl. Eirik gave hopes very early that he would 
become an able man, was handsome in countenance, 
and stout and strong for a child ; but the earl did not pay 
much attention to him. The earl himself was one of the 
handsomest men in countenance, not tall, but very 
strong, and well practised in all kinds of exercises; and 
withal prudent, of good understanding, and a deadly man 
at arms. 


It happened one harvest (962) that Earl Hakon, on a 
journey in the Uplands, came to Hedemark; and King 
Trygve Olafson and King Gudrod Bjornson met him 
there, and Dale-Gudbrand also came to the meeting. They 
had agreed to meet, and they talked together long by 
themselves; but so much only was known of their busi- 
ness, that they were to be friends of each other. They 
parted, and each went home to his own kingdom. Gun- 
hild and her sons came to hear of this meeting, and they 
suspected it must have been to lay a treasonable plot 
against the kings; and they often talked of this among 
themselves. When spring (963) began to set in, King 
Harald and his brother King Gudrod proclaimed that 
they were to make a viking cruise, as usual, either in the 
West sea, or the Baltic. The people accordingly assem- 
bled, launched the ships into the sea, and made them- 
selves ready to sail. When they were drinking the fare- 
well ale, and they drank bravely, much and many 
things were talked over at the drink-table, and, among 



other things, were comparisons between different men, and 
at last between the kings themselves. One said that King 
Harald excelled his brothers by far, and in every way. 
On this King Gudrod was very angry, and said that he 
was in no respect behind Harald, and was ready to prove 
it. Instantly both parties were so inflamed that they 
challenged each other to battle, and ran to their arms. 
But some of the guests who were less drunk, and had 
more understanding, came between them, and quieted 
them ; and each went to his ship, but nobody expected that 
they would all sail together. Gudrod sailed eastward 
along the land, and Harald went out to sea, saying he 
would go to the westward; but when he came outside of 
the islands he steered east along the coast, outside of the 
rocks and isles. Gudrod, again, sailed inside, through 
the usual channel, to Viken, and eastwards to Folden. He 
then sent a message to King Trygve to meet him, that 
they might make a cruise together in summer in the Baltic 
to plunder. Trygve accepted willingly, and as a friend, 
the invitation ; and as he heard King Gudrod had but few 
people with him, he came to meet him with a single boat. 
They met at Veggen, to the east of Sotanes ; but just as 
they were come to the meeting place, Gudrod's men ran 
up and killed King Trygve and twelve men. He lies 
buried at a place called Trygve's Cairn (963). 


King Harald sailed far outside of the rocks and isles ; 
but set his course to Viken, and came in the night-time to 
Tunsberg, and heard that Gudrod Bjornson was at a feast 



a little way up the country. Then King Harald set out 
immediately with his followers, came in the night, and 
surrounded the house. King Gudrod Bjornson went out 
with his people; but after a short resistance he fell, and 
many men with him. Then King Harald joined his 
brother King Gudrod, and they subdued all Viken. 


King Gudrod Bjornsoti had made a good and suitable 
marriage, and had by his wife a son called Harald, who 
had been sent to be fostered to Grenland to a lenderman 
called Hroe the White. Hroe's son, called Hrane Vidforle 
(the Far-travelled), was Harald's foster-brother, and 
about the same age. After his father Gudrod's fall, Harald, 
who was called Grenske, fled to the Uplands, and with him 
his foster-brother Hrane, and a few people. Harald staid a 
while there among his relations ; but as Eirik's sons sought 
after every man who interfered with them, and especially 
those who might oppose them, Harald Grenske's friends 
and relations advised him to leave the country. Harald 
therefore went eastward into Svithjod, and sought ship- 
mates, that he might enter into company with those who 
went out a cruising to gather property. Harald became 
in this way a remarkably able man. There was a man in 
Svithjod at that time called Toste, one of the most power- 
ful and clever in the land among those who had no high 
name or dignity; and he was a great warrior, who had 
been often in battle, and was therefore called Skoglar- 
Toste. Harald Grenske came into his company, and 
cruised with Toste in summer ; and wherever Harald came 



he was well thought of by every one. In the winter 
Harald, after passing two years in the Uplands, took up 
his abode with Toste, and lived five years with him. 
Toste had a daughter, who was both young and hand- 
some, but she was proud and high-minded. She was 
called Sigrid, and was afterwards married to the Swedish 
king, Eirik the Victorious, and had a son by him, called 
Olaf the Swede, who was afterwards king of Svithjod. 
King Eirik died in a sick-bed at Upsala ten years after 
the death of Styrbjorn. 


Gunhild's sons levied a great army in Viken (963), and 
sailed along the land northwards, collecting people and 
ships on the way out of every district. They then made 
known their intent, to proceed northwards with their army 
against Earl Hakon in Throndhjem. When Earl Hakon 
heard this news, he also collected men, and fitted out 
ships; and when he heard what an overwhelming force 
Gunhild's sons had with them, he steered south with his 
fleet to More, pillaging wherever he came, and killing 
many jeople. He then sent the whole of the bonde army 
back to Throndhjem; but he himself, with his men-at- 
arms, proceeded by both the districts of More and Raums- 
dal, and had his spies out to the south of Stad to spy the 
army of Gunhild's sons; and when he heard they were 
come into the Fjords, and were waiting for a fair wind to 
sail northwards round Stad, Earl Hakon set out to sea 
from the north side of Stad, so far that his sails could not 
be seen from the land, and then sailed eastward on a line 


with the coast, and came to Denmark, from whence he 
sailed into the Baltic, and pillaged there during the sum- 
mer. Gunhild's sons conducted their army north to 
Throndhjem, and remained there the whole summer col- 
lecting the scat and duties. But when summer was 
advanced they left Sigurd Slefa and Gudron behind ; and 
the other brothers returned eastward with the levied army 
they had taken up in summer. 


Earl Hakon, towards harvest (963), sailed into 1 the 
Bothnian Gulf to Helsingjaland, drew his ships up there 
on the beach, and took the land-ways through Helsingja- 
land and Jamtaland, and so eastwards round the dividing 
ridge (the Kjol, or keel of the country), and down into 
the Throndhjem district. Many people streamed towards 
him, and he fitted out ships. When the sons of Gunhild 
heard of this they got on board their ships, and sailed out 
of the Fjord ; and Earl Hakon came to his seat at Hlader, 
and remained there all winter. The sons of Gunhild, on 
the other hand, occupied More; and they and the earl 
attacked each other in turns, killing each other's people. 
Earl Hakon kept his dominions of Throndhjem, and was 
there generally in the winter ; but in summer he sometimes 
went to Helsingjaland, where he went on board of his 
ships and sailed with them down into the Baltic, and 
plundered there; and sometimes he remained in Thrond- 
hjem, and kept an army on foot, so that Gunhild's sons 
could get no hold northwards of Stad. 




One summer Harald Grayskin with his troops went 
north to Bjarmaland, where he forayed, and fought a 
great battle with the inhabitants on the banks of the Vina 
(Dwina). King Harald gained the victory, killed many 
people, plundered and wasted and burned far and wide in 
the land, and made enormous booty. Glum Geirason tells 
of it thus : 

"I saw the hero Harald chase On Dwina's bank, at Harald's word, 

With bloody sword Bjarme's race : Arose the storm of spear and sword. 

They fly before him through the In such a wild war-cruise as this, 

night, Great would he be who could bring 
All by their burning city's light. peace." 

King Sigurd Slefa came to the Herse Klyp's house. 
Klyp was a son of Thord, and a grandson of Hordakare, 
and was a man of power and great family. He was not 
at home ; but his wife Alof gave a good reception to the 
king, and made a great feast at which there was much 
drinking. Alof was a daughter of Asbjorn, and sister 
to Jarnskegge, north in Yrjar. Asbjorn's brother was 
called Hreidar, who was father to Styrkar, whose son 
was Eindride, father of Einar Tambaskielfer. In the 
night the king went to bed to Alof against her will, and 
then set out on his journey. The harvest thereafter, King 
Harald and his brother King Sigurd Slefa went to Vors, 
and summoned the bondes to a Thing. There the bondes 
fell on them, and would have killed them, but they 
escaped and took different roads. King Harald went to 
Hardanger, but King Sigurd to Alrekstader. Now when 
the Herse Klyp heard of this, he and his relations 
assembled to attack the king ; and Vemund Volubrjot 1 was 

1 VolubrJ6tr, literally the one who breaks the vala, that is, breaks the 
bkulls of witches. 


chief of their troop. Now when they came to the house 
they attacked the king, and Herse Klyp, it is said, ran him 
through with his sword and killed him ; but instantly Klyp 
was killed on the spot by Erling Gamle (965), 


King Harald Grafeld and his brother King Gudrod 
gathered together a great army in the east country, with 
which they set out northwards to Throndhjem (968). 
When Earl Hakon heard of it he collected men, and set 
out to More, where he plundered. There his father's 
brother, Grjotgard, had the command and defence of the 
country on account of Gunhild's sons, and he assembled an 
army by order of the kings. Earl Hakon advanced to 
meet him, and gave him battle; and there fell Grjotgard 
and two other earls, and many a man besides. So says 
Einar Skalaglam : 

"The helm-crown'd Hakon, brave as Has to be sung. Earl Hakon's sword, 

stout, In single combat, as I've heard, 

Again has put his foes to rout. Three sons of earls from this one fray 

The bowl runs o'er with Odin's mead, 1 To dwell with Odin drove away." 2 
That fires the skald when mighty deed 

Thereafter Earl Hakon went out to sea, and sailed out- 
side the coast, and came to Denmark. He went to the 
Danish King, Harald Gormson, and was well received by 
him, and staid with him all winter (969). At that time 
there was also with the Danish king a man called Harald, 
a son of Knut Gormson, and a brother's son of King 
Harald. He was lately come home from a long viking 
cruise, on which he had gathered great riches, and there- 

Odin's mead, called Bodn, was the blood or mead the sons of Brage, 
the god of poets, drank to inspire them. L. 
2 To dwell with Odin, viz. slew them. L. 



fore he was called Gold Harald. He thought he had a 
good chance of coming to the Danish kingdom. 


King Harald Grafeld and his brothers proceeded 
northwards to Throndhjem, where they met no opposi- 
tion. They levied the scat-duties, and all other revenues, 
and laid heavy penalties upon the bondes; for the kings 
had for a long time received but little income from 
Throndhjem, because Earl Hakon was there with many 
troops, and was at variance with these kings. In autumn 
(968) King Harald went south with the greater part of 
the men-at-arms, but King Erling remained behind with 
his men. He raised great contributions from the bondes, 
and pressed severely on them; at which the bondes mur- 
mured greatly, and submitted to their losses with impa- 
tience. In winter they gathered together in a great force 
to go against King Erling, just as he was at a feast; and 
they gave battle to him, and he with the most of his men 
fell (969). 


While Gunhild's sons reigned in Norway the seasons 
were always bad, and the longer they reigned the worse 
were the crops ; and the bondes laid the blame on them. 
They were very greedy, and used the bondes harshly. It 
came at length to be so bad that fish, as well as corn, were 
wanting. In Halogaland there was the greatest famine 
and distress ; for scarcely any corn grew, and even snow 
was lying, and the cattle were bound in the byres 1 all over 

iByres gards or farms. 



the country until midsummer. Eyvind Skaldaspiller 
describes it in his poem, as he came outside of his house 
and found a thick snow-drift at that season : 

"Tis midsummer, yet deep snows Like Laplanders, our cattle-kind 
rest In stall or stable we must bind." 

On Odin's mother's frozen breast : 


Eyvind composed a poem about the people of Iceland, 
for which they rewarded him by each bonde giving him 
three silver pennies, of full weight and white in the frac- 
ture. And when the silver was brought together at the 
Althing, the people resolved to have it purified, and made 
into a row of clasps; and after the workmanship of the 
silver was paid, the row of clasps was valued at fifty 
marks. This they sent to Eyvind; but Eyvind was 
obliged to separate the clasps from each other, and sell 
them to buy food for his household. But the same 
spring a shoal of herrings set in upon the fishing ground 
beyond the coast-side, and Eyvind manned a ship's boat 
with his house servants and cottars, and rowed to where 
the herrings were come, and sang : 

"Now let the steed of ocean bound Fain would I know if Fortune sends 

O'er the North Sea with dashing A like provision to my friends. 

sound ; Welcome provision 'tis, I wot, 

Let nimble tern and screaming gull That the whale drives to our cook's 
Fly round and round our net is full. pot." 

So entirely were his movable goods exhausted, that he 
was obliged to sell his arrows to buy herrings, or other 
meat for his table: 

"Our arms and ornaments of gold The arrows of the bow gave we 

To buy us food we gladly sold : For the bright arrows of the sea." 1 

herrings, from their swift darting along, are called the arrows of 
the sea. 





HITHERTO the narrative has been more or less fragmentary. 
With Olaf Trygvason's Saga reliable history begins, and the 
narration is full and connected. The story of Hakon the earl is 
Incorporated in this saga. 

Accounts of Olaf Trygvason may be found in Od the Monk's 
legendary saga, in parts of Agrip, Historia Norvegiae, and in 
Thjodrek. Icelandic works on this epoch are: 

Egla, Eyrbyggja, Finboga, Floamanna, Faereyinga, Hallfredar 
Saga, Havardar Saga, Are's Islendinga-bok, Kristni Saga, Lax- 
daela, Ljosvetninga, Njala, Orkneyinga, Viga Glums Saga, and 
Viga Styrs Saga. 

The skalds quoted are: Glum Geirason, Eyvind Finson, 
Skaldaspiller, Einar Skalaglam, Tind Halkelson, Eyjolf Dada- 
ekald, Hallarstein, Halfred Vandrsedaskald, Haldor Ukristne, 
Skule Thorsteinson, and Thord Kolbeinson. 


King Trygve Olafson had married a wife who was 
called Astrid. She was a daughter of Eirik Bjodaskalle, 
a great man, who dwelt at Oprustader. But after 
Trygve's death (963) Astrid fled, and privately took with 
her all the loose property she could. Her foster-father, 
Thorolf Lusarskeg, followed her, and never left her ; and 
others of her faithful followers spied about to discover her 
enemies, and where they were. Astrid was pregnant with 
a child of King Trygve, and she went to a lake, and con- 
cealed herself in a holm or small island in it with a few 
men. Here her child was born, and it was a boy; and 


water was poured over it, and it was called Olaf after the 
grandfather. Astrid remained all summer here in con- 
cealment; but when the nights became dark, and the day 
began to shorten and the weather to be cold, she was 
obliged to take to the land, along with Thorolf and a few 
other men. They did not seek for houses unless in the 
night-time, when they came to them secretly; and they 
spoke to nobody. One evening, towards dark, they came 
to Oprustader, where Astrid's father Eirik dwelt, and 
privately sent a man to Eirik to tell him ; and Eirik took 
them to an out-house, and spread a table for them with 
the best of food. When Astrid had been here a short 
time her travelling attendants left her, and none remained] 
behind with her but two servant girls, her child Olaf,, 
Thorolf Lusarskeg, and his son Thorgils, who was six: 
years old; and they remained all winter (964). 


After Trygve Olafson's murder, Harald Grafeld and 
his brother Gudrod went to the farm which he owned; 
but Astrid was gone, and they could learn no tidings of 
her. A loose report came to their ears that she was preg- 
nant to King Trygve; but they soon went away north- 
wards, as before related. As soon as they met their mother 
Gunhild, they told her all that had taken place. She in- 
quired particularly about Astrid, and they told her the re- 
port they had heard ; but as Gunhild's sons the same har- 
vest and winter after had bickerings with Earl Hakon, as 
before related, they did not seek after Astrid and her son 
that winter. 




The spring after (964) Gunhild sent spies to the 
Uplands, and all the way down to Viken, to spy what they 
could about Astrid; and her men came back, and could 
only tell her that Astrid must be with her father Eirik, 
and it was probable was bringing up her infant, the son 
of Trygve. Then Gunhild, without delay, sent off men 
well furnished with arms and horses, and in all a troop 
of thirty; and as their leader she sent a particular friend 
of her own, a powerful man called Hakon. Her orders 
were to go to Oprustader, to Eirik, and take King 
Trygve's son from thence, and bring the child to her; and 
with these orders the men went out. Now when they 
were come to the neighbourhood of Oprustader, some of 
Eirik' s friends observed the troop of travellers, and about 
the close of the day brought him word of their approach. 
Eirik immediately, in the night, made preparation for 
Astrid's flight, gave her good guides, and sent her away 
eastward to Svithjod, to his good friend Hakon Gamle, 
who was a powerful man there. Long before day they 
departed, and towards evening they reached a domain 
called Skaun. Here they saw a large mansion, towards 
which they went, and begged a night's lodging. For 
the sake of concealment they were clad in mean clothing. 
There dwelt here a bonde called Bjorn Eiterkveisa, who 
was very rich, but very inhospitable. He drove them 
away ; and therefore, towards dark, they went to another 
domain close by that was called Vidar. Thorstein was 
the name of the bonde; and he gave them lodging, and 



took good care of them, so that they slept well, and were 
well entertained. Early that morning Gunhild's men had 
come to Oprustader, and inquired for Astrid and her son. 
As Eirik told them she was not there, they searched the 
whole house, and remained till late in the day before they 
got any news of Astrid. Then they rode after her the way 
she had taken, and late at night they came to Bjorn Eiter- 
kveisa in Skaun, and took up their quarters there. Hakon 
asked Bjorn if he knew anything about Astrid, and he 
said some people had been there in the evening wanting 
lodgings; "but I drove them away, and I suppose they 
have gone to some of the neighbouring houses." Thor- 
stein's labourer was coming from the forest, having left 
his work at nightfall, and called in at Bjorn's house 
because it was in his way ; and finding there were guests 
come to the house, and learning their business, he comes 
toThorstein and tells him of it. As about a third part of 
the night was still remaining, Thorstein wakens his guests 
and orders them in an angry voice to go about their 
business ; but as soon as they were out of the house upon 
the road, Thorstein tells them that Gunhild's messengers 
were at Bjorn's house, and are upon the trace of them. 
They entreat of him to help them, and he gave them a 
guide and some provisions. He conducted them through 
a forest to a lake, in which there was an islet overgrown 
with reeds. They waded out to the islet, and hid them- 
selves among the reeds. Early in the morning Hakon 
rode away from Bjorn's into the township, and wherever 
he came he asked after Astrid; and when he came to 
Thorstein's he asked if she had been there. He said that 



some people had been there ; but as soon as it was daylight 
they had set off again, eastwards, to the forest. Hakon 
made Thorstein go along with them, as he knew all the 
roads and hiding-places. Thorstein went with them ; but 
when they were come into the woods, he led them right 
across the way Astrid had taken. They went about and 
about the whole day to no purpose, as they could find no 
trace of her, so they turned back to tell Gunhild the end of 
their travel. Astrid and her friends proceeded on their 
journey, and came to Svithjod, to Hakon Gamle (the 
Old), where she and her son remained a long time, and 
had friendly welcome. 


When Gunhild, the mother of the kings, heard that 
Astrid and her son Olaf were in the kingdom of Svithjod, 
she again sent Hakon, with a good attendance, eastward, 
to Eirik king of Sweden, with presents and messages of 
friendship. The ambassadors were well received and 
well treated. Hakon, after a time, disclosed his errand to 
the king, saying that Gunhild had sent him with the 
request that the king would assist him in getting hold of 
Olaf Trygvason, to conduct him to Norway, where Gun- 
hild would bring him up. The king gave Hakon people 
with him, and he rode with them to Hakon the Old, where 
Hakon desired, with many friendly expressions, that Olaf 
should go with him. Hakon the Old returned a friendly 
answer, saying that it depended entirely upon Olaf s 
mother. But Astrid would on no account listen to the 
proposal ; and the messengers had to return as they came, 



and to tell King Eirik how the matter stood. The 
ambassadors then prepared to return home, and asked the 
king for some assistance to take the boy, whether Hakon 
the Old would or not. The king gave them again some at- 
tendants; and when they came to Hakon the Old, they 
again asked for the boy, and on his refusal to deliver him 
they used high words and threatened violence. But one of 
the slaves, Buste by name, attacked Hakon, and was 
going to kill him ; and they barely escaped from the thralls 
without a cudgelling, and proceeded home to Norway to 
tell Gunhild their ill success, and that they had only seen 


Astrid had a brother called Sigurd, a son of Eirik 
Bjodaskalle, who had long been abroad in Gardarike 
(Russia) with King Valdemar, and was there in great 
consideration. Astrid had now a great inclination to 
travel to her brother there. Hakon the Old gave her 
good attendants, and what was needful for the journey, 
and she set out with some merchants. She had then been 
two years (965-966) with Hakon the Old, and Olaf was 
three years of age. As they sailed out into the Baltic, 
they were captured by vikings of Eistland, who made 
booty both of the people and goods, killing some, and di- 
viding others as slaves. Olaf was separated from his 
mother, and an Eistland man called Klerkon got him as his 
share along with Thorolf and Thorgils. Klerkon thought 
that Thorolf was too old for a slave, and that there was not 
much work to be got out of him, so he killed him ; but 



took the boys with him, and sold them to a man called 
Klerk for a stout and good ram. A third man, called 
Reas, bought Olaf for a good cloak. Reas had a wife 
called Rekon, and a son by her whose name was Rekone. 
Olaf was long with them, was treated well, and was much 
beloved by the people. Olaf was six years in Eistland in 
this banishment (967-972). 


Sigurd, the son of Eirik (Astrid's brother), came into 
Eistland from Novgorod, on King Valdemar's business to 
collect the king's taxes and rents. Sigurd came as a man 
of consequence, with many followers and great magnifi- 
cence. In the market-place he happened to observe a 
remarkably handsome boy; and as he could distinguish 
that he was a foreigner, he asked him his name and 
family. He answered him, that his name was Olaf ; that 
he was a son of Trygve Olafson ; and Astrid, a daughter 
of Eirik Bjodaskalle, was his mother. Then Sigurd knew 
that the boy was his sister's son, and asked him how he 
came there. Olaf told him minutely all his adventures, 
and Sigurd told him to follow him to the peasant Reas. 
When he came there he bought both the boys, Olaf and 
Thorgils, and took them with him to Holmgard. But, for 
the first, he made nothing known of Olaf's relationship to 
him, but treated him well. 


Olaf Trygvason was one day in the market-place, where 
there was a great number of people. He recognised 



Klerkon again, who had killed his foster-father Thorolf 
Lusarskeg. Olaf had a little axe in his hand, and with 
it he clove Klerkon's skull down to the brain, and ran 
home to his lodging, and told his friend Sigurd what he 
had done. Sigurd immediately took Olaf to Queen 
Allogia's house, told her what had happened, and begged 
her to protect the boy. She replied, that the boy appeared 
far too comely to allow him to be slain; and she ordered 
her people to be drawn out fully armed. In Holmgard 
the sacredness of peace is so respected, that it is law there 
to slay whoever puts a man to death except by judgment 
of law ; and, according to this law and usage, the whole 
people stormed and sought after the boy. It was reported 
that he was in the Queen's house, and that there was a 
number of armed men there. When this was told to the 
king, he went there with his people, but would allow no 
bloodshed. It was settled at last in peace, that the king 
should name the fine for the murder ; and the queen paid it. 
Olaf remained afterwards with the queen, and was much 
beloved. It is a law at Holmgard, that no man of royal 
descent shall stay there without the king's permission. 
Sigurd therefore told the queen of what family Olaf 
was, and for what reason he had come to Russia ; namely, 
that he could not remain with safety in his own country : 
and begged her to speak to the king about it. She did so, 
and begged the king to help a king's son whose fate had 
been so hard ; and in consequence of her entreaty the king 
promised to assist him, and accordingly he received Olaf 
into his court, and treated him nobly, and as a king's son. 
Olaf was nine years old when he came to Russia, and he 



remained nine years more (973-981) with King Valde- 
mar. Olaf was the handsomest of men, very stout and 
strong, and in all bodily exercises he excelled every 
Northman that ever was heard of. 


Earl Hakon, Sigurd's son, was with the Danish king, 
Harald Gormson, the winter after he had fled from Nor- 
way before Gunhild's sons. During the winter (969) the 
earl had so much care and sorrow that he took to bed, and 
passed many sleepless nights, and ate and drank no more 
than was needful to support his strength. Then he sent 
a private message to his friends north in Throndhjem, and 
proposed to them that they should kill King Erling, if they 
had an opportunity ; adding, that he would come to them 
in summer. The same winter the Throndhjem people 
accordingly, as before related, killed King Erling. There 
was great friendship between Earl Hakon and Gold 
Harald, and Harald told Hakon all his intentions. He 
told him that he was tired of a ship-life, and wanted to 
settle on the land; and asked Hakon if he thought his 
brother King Harald would agree to divide the kingdom 
with him if he asked it. "I think," replied Hakon, "that 
the Danish king would not deny thy right; but the best 
way to know is to speak to the king himself. I know for 
certain so much, that you will not get a kingdom if you 
don't ask for it." Soon after this conversation Gold 
Harald spoke to the king about the matter, in the presence 
of many great men who were friends to both ; and Gold 
Harald asked King Harald to divide the kingdom with 



him in two equal parts, to which his royal birth and the 
custom of the Danish monarchy gave him right. The 
king was highly incensed at this demand, and said that no 
man had asked his father Gorm to be king over half of 
Denmark, nor yet his grandfather King Hordaknut, or 
Sigurd Orm, or Ragnar Lodbrok ; and he was so exasper- 
ated and angry, that nobody ventured to speak of it to 


Gold Harald was now worse off than before; for he 
had got no kingdom, and had got the king's anger by 
proposing it. He went as usual to his friend Hakon, and 
complained to him of his fate, and asked for good advice, 
and if he could help him to get his share of the kingdom ; 
saying that he would rather try force, and the chance of 
war, than give it up. 

Hakon advised him not to speak to any man so that 
this should be known; "for," said he, "it concerns thy 
life : and rather consider with thyself what thou art man 
enough to undertake; for to accomplish such a purpose 
requires a bold and firm man, who will neither stick at 
good nor evil to do that which is intended ; for to take up 
great resolutions, and then to lay them aside, would only 
end in dishonour." 

Gold Harald replies, "I will so carry on what I begin, 
that I will not hesitate to kill Harald with my own hands, 
if I can come thereby to the kingdom he denies me, and 
which is mine by right." And so they separated. 

Now King Harald comes also to Earl Hakon, and tells 



him the demand on his kingdom which Gold Harald had 
made, and also his answer, and that he would upon no 
account consent to diminish his kingdom. "And if Gold 
Harald persists in his demand, I will have no hesitation in 
having him killed ; for I will not trust him if he does not 
renounce it." 

The earl answered, "My thoughts are, that Harald 
has carried his demand so far that he cannot now let it 
drop, and I expect nothing but war in the land ; and that 
he will be able to gather a great force, because his father 
was so beloved. And then it would be a great enormity 
if you were to kill your relation ; for, as things now stand, 
all men would say that he was innocent. But I am far 
from saying, or advising, that you should make yourself a 
smaller king than your father Gorm was, who in many 
ways enlarged, but never diminished his kingdom." 

The king replies, "What then is your advice, if I 
am neither to divide my kingdom, nor to get rid of my 
fright and danger?" 

"Let us meet again in a few days," said Earl Hakon, 
"and I will then have considered the matter well, and will 
give you my advice upon it." 

The king then went away with his people. 


Earl Hakon had now great reflection, and many 
opinions to weigh, and he let only very few be in the house 
with him. In a few days King Harald came again to 
the earl to speak with him, and ask if he had yet con- 
sidered fully the matter they had been talking of. 



"I have," said the earl, "considered it night and day 
ever since, and find it most advisable that you retain and 
rule over the whole of your kingdom just as your father 
left it; but that you obtain for your relation Harald 
another kingdom, that he also may enjoy honour and 

"What kind of kingdom is that," said the king, "which 
I can give to Harald, that I may possess Denmark 

"It is Norway," said the earl. "The kings who are 
there are oppressive to the people of the country, so that 
every man is against them who has tax or service to pay." 

The king replies, "Norway is a large country, and 
the people fierce, and not good to attack with a foreign 
army. We found that sufficiently when Hakon defended 
that countrr; for we lost many people, and gained no 
victory. Besides, Harald the son of Eirik is my foster- 
son, and has sat on my knee." 

The earl answers, "I have long known that you have 
helped Gunhild's sons with your force, and a bad return 
you have got for it; but we shall get at Norway much 
more easily than by fighting for it with all the Danish 
force. Send a message to your foster-son Harald, Eirik's 
son, and offer him the lands and fiefs which Gunhild's sons 
held before in Denmark. Appoint him a meeting, and 
Gold Harald will soon conquer for himself a kingdom in 
Norway from Harald Grafeld." 

The king replies, that it would be called a bad business 
to deceive his own foster-son. 

"The Danes," answered the earl, "will rather say that 



it was better to kill a Norwegian viking than a Danish, 
and your own brother's son." 

They spoke so long over the matter, that they agreed 
on it. 


Thereafter Gold Harald had a conference with Earl 
Hakon ; and the earl told him he had now advanced his 
business so far, that there was hope -a kingdom might 
stand open for him in Norway. "We can then continue," 
said he, "our ancient friendship, and I can be of the 
greatest use to you in Norway. Take first that kingdom. 
King Harald is now very old, and has but one son, and 
cares but little about him, as he is but the son of a con- 

The Earl talked so long to Gold Harald that the 
project pleased him well ; and the king, the earl, and Gold 
Harald often talked over the business together. The 
Danish king then sent messengers north to Norway to 
Harald Grafeld, and fitted them out magnificently for 
their journey. They were well received by Harald. The 
messengers told him that Earl Hakon was in Denmark, 
but was lying dangerously sick, and almost out of his 
senses. They then delivered from Harald, the Danish 
king, the invitation to Harald Grafeld, his foster-son, to 
come to him, and receive investiture of the fiefs he and 
his brothers before him had formerly held in Denmark; 
and appointing a meeting in Jutland. Harald Grafeld 
laid the matter before his mother and other friends. Their 
opinions were divided. Some thought that the expedition 


was not without its clanger, on account of the men with 
whom they had to deal; but the most were in haste to 
begin the journey, for at that time there was such a famine 
in Norway that the kings could scarcely feed their men- 
at-arms; and on this account the Fjord, on which the 
kings resided, usually got the name of Hardanger (Hard- 
acre). In Denmark, on the other hand, there had been 
tolerably good crops ; so that people thought that if King 
Harald got fiefs, and something to rule over there, they 
would get some assistance. It was therefore concluded, 
before the messengers returned, that Harald should travel 
to Denmark to the Danish king in summer, and accept the 
conditions King Harald offered. 


Harald Grafeld went to Denmark in the summer 
(969) with three long-ships; and Herse Arinbjorn, from 
the Fjord district, commanded one of them. King Harald 
sailed from Viken over to Limf jord in Jutland, and landed 
at the narrow neck of land where the Danish king was 
expected. Now when Gold Harald heard of this, he sailed 
there with nine ships which he had fitted out before for a 
viking cruise. Earl Hakon had also his war force on 
foot; namely, twelve large ships, all ready, with which 
he proposed to make an expedition. When Gold Harald 
had departed Earl Hakon says to the king, "Now I don't 
know if we are not sailing on an expedition, and yet are 
to pay the penalty of not having joined it. Gold Harald 
may kill Harald Grafeld, and get the kingdom of Nor- 
way; but you must not think he will be true to you, 



although you do help him to so much power, for he told 
me in winter that he would take your life if he could find 
opportunity to do so. Now I will win Norway for you, 
and kill Gold Harald, if you will promise me a good con- 
dition under you. I will be your earl; swear an oath 
of fidelity to you, and, with your help, conquer all Norway 
for you ; hold the country under your rule ; pay you the 
scat and taxes ; and you will be a greater king than your 
father, as you will have two kingdoms under you." The 
king and the earl agreed upon this, and Hakon set off to 
seek Gold Harald. 


Gold Harald came to the neck of land at Limfjord, 
and immediately challenged Harald Grafeld to battle; 
and although Harald had fewer men, he went immediately 
on the land, prepared for battle, and drew up his troops. 
Before the lines came together Harald Grafeld urged on 
his men ,and told them to draw their swords. He himself 
advanced the foremost of the troop, hewing down on each 
side. So says Glum Geirason, in Grafeld's lay : 

"Brave were thy words in battle- Thou couldst the dying man rejoice : 

field, The cheer of Harald could impart 

Thou stainer of the snow-white Courage and life to every heart. 

shield! While swinging high the blood- 

Thou gallant war-god ! With thy smeared sword, 

voice By arm and voice we knew our lord." 

There fell Harald Grafeld. So says Glum Geirason : 

"On Limfjord's strand, by the tide's The generous ruler of the land 

flow, Pell at the narrow Limf jord strand, 

Stern Fate has laid King Harald Enticed by Hakon's cunning speech 

low ; To his death-bed on Limfjord's 

The gallant viking-cruiser he beach." 

Who loved the isle-encircling sea. 

The most of King Harald's men fell with him. There 
also fell Herse Arinbjorn. 



This happened fifteen years after the death of Hakon, 
Athelstan's foster-son, and thirteen years after that of 
Sigurd earl of Hlader. The priest Are Frode says that 
Earl Hakon was thirteen years earl over his father's 
dominions in Throndhjem district before the fall of 
Harald Grafeld; but, for the last six years of Harald 
Grafeld's life, Are Frode says the Earl Hakon and Gun- 
hild's sons fought against each other, and drove each other 
out of the land by turns. 


Soon after Harald Grafeld's fall, Earl Hakon came 
up to Gold Harald, and the earl immediately gave battle 
to Harald. Hakon gained the victory, and Harald was 
made prisoner; but Hakon had him immediately hanged 
on a gallows. Hakon then went to the Danish king, and 
no doubt easily settled with him for the killing his relative 
Gold Harald. 


Soon after King Harald Gormson ordered a levy of 
men over all his kingdom, and sailed with 600 ships. 1 
There were with him Earl Hakon, Harald Grenske, a son 
of King Gudrod, and many other great men who had fled 
from their udal estates in Norway on account of Gun- 
hild's sons. The Danish king sailed with his fleet from 
the south to Viken, where all the people of the country sur- 
rendered to him. When he came to Tunsberg swarms of 
people joined him ; and King Harald gave to Earl Hakon 

*I.e., 720 ships, as they were counted by long hundreds, 100 120. 



the command of all the men who came to him in Norway, 
and gave him the government over Rogaland, Hordaland, 
Sogn, Fjord-district, South More, Raumsdal, and North 
More. These seven districts gave King Harald to Earl 
Hakon to rule over, with the same rights as Harald Har- 
fager gave with them to his sons ; only with the difference, 
that Hakon should there, as well as in Throndhjem, have 
the king's land-estates and land-tax, and use the king's 
money and goods according to his necessities whenever 
there was war in the country. King Harald also gave 
Harald Grenske Vingulmark, Vestfold, and Agder all 
the way to Lidandisnes (the Naze), together with the 
title of king; and let him have these dominions with the 
same rights as his family in former times had held them, 
and as Harald Harfager had given with them to his sons. 
Harald Grenske was then eighteen years old, and he 
became afterwards a celebrated man. Harald king of 
Denmark returned home thereafter with all his army. 


Earl Hakon proceeded northwards along the coast with 
his force ; and when Gunhild and her sons got the tidings 
they proceeded to gather troops, but were ill off for men. 
Then they took the same resolution as before, to sail out 
to sea with such men as would follow them away to the 
westward (969), They came first to the Orkney Islands, 
and remained there a while. There were in Orkney then 
the Earls Hlodver, Arnfid, Ljot, and Skule, the sons of 
Thorfin Hausakljufer. 

Earl Hakon now brought all the country under him, and 

10 135 


remained all winter (670) in Throndhjem. Einar Skala- 
glam speaks of his conquests in Vellekla : 

"Norway's great watchman, Harald, Seven provinces he seized. The realm 

now Prospers with Hakon at the helm." 

May bind the silk snood on his brow 

As Hakon the earl proceeded this summer along the 
coast subjecting all the people to him, he ordered that over 
all his dominions the temples and sacrifices should be 
restored, and continued as of old. So it is said in the 
Vellekla : 

"Hakon the earl, so good and wise, The shield-bearer in Loke's game 

Let all the ancient temples rise ; Invokes once more great Odin's name, 

Thor's temples raised with fostering The green earth gladly yields her 

hand, store, 

That had been ruined through the As she was wont in days of yore, 

land. Since the brave breaker of the spears 

His valiant champions, who were The holy shrines again uprears. 

slain The earl has conquered with strong 
On battle-fields across the main, hand 

To Thor, the thunder-god, may tell All that lies north of Viken land : 

How for the gods all turns out well. In battle storm, and iron rain, 

The hardy warrior now once more Hakon spreads wide his sword's do- 
Offers the sacrifice of gore ; main." 

The first winter that Hakon ruled over Norway the 
herrings set in everywhere through the fjords to the land, 
and the seasons ripened to a good crop all that had been 
sown. The people, therefore, laid in seed for the next 
year, and got their lands sowed, and had hope of good 


King Ragnfred and King Gudrod, both sons of Gun- 
hild and Eirik, were now the only sons of Gunhild remain- 
ing in life. So says Glum Geirason in Grafeld's lay: 

"When in the battle's bloody strife My loss would soon repair, should 

The sword took noble Harald's life, they 

Half of my fortunes with him fell : Again in Norway bear the sway, 
But his two brothers, I know well, And to their promises should stand, 

If they return to rule the land." 

Ragnfred began his course in the spring after he had 



been a year in the Orkney Islands. He sailed from thence 
to Norway, and had with him fine troops, and large ships. 
When he came to Norway he learnt that Earl Hakon was 
in Throndhjem; therefore he steered northwards around 
Stad, and plundered in South More. Some people sub- 
mitted -to him; for it often happens, when parties of 
armed men scour over a country, that those who are 
nearest the danger seek help where they think it may be 
expected. As soon as Earl Hakon heard the news of 
disturbance in More, he fitted out ships, sent the war-token 
through the land, made ready in all haste, and proceeded 
out of the fjord. He had no difficulty in assembling men. 
Ragnfred and Earl Hakon met at the north corner of 
More; and Hakon, who had most men, but fewer ships, 
began the battle. The combat was severe, but heaviest on 
Hakon's side; and, as the custom then was, they fought 
bow to bow, and there was a current in the sound which 
drove all the ships in upon the land. The earl ordered to 
row with the oars to the land where landing seemed 
easiest. When the ships were all grounded, the earl with 
all his men left them, and drew them up so far that the 
enemy might not launch them down again, and then drew 
up his men on a grass-field, and challenged Ragnfred to 
land. Ragnfred and his men laid their vessels in along 
the land, and they shot at each other a long time; but 
upon the land Ragnfred would not venture: and so they 
separated. Ragnfred sailed with his fleet southwards 
around Stad; for he was much afraid the whole forces 
of the country would swarm around Hakon. Hakon, on 
his part, was not inclined to try again a battle, for he 



thought the difference between their ships in size was too 
great; so in harvest he went north to Throndhjem, and 
staid there all winter (971). King Ragnfred conse- 
quently had all the country south of Stad at his mercy ; 
namely, Fjord district, Hordaland, Sogn, Rogaland; and 
he had many people about him all winter. When spring 
approached he ordered out the people and collected a 
large force. By going about the districts he got many 
men, ships, and warlike stores sent as he required. 


Towards spring Earl Hakon ordered out all the men 
north in the country ; and got many people from Haloga- 
land and Naumudal ; so that from Bryda to Stad he had 
men from all the sea-coast. People flocked to him from 
all the Throndhjem district and from Raumsdal. It was 
said for certain that he had men from four great districts, 
and that seven earls followed him, and a matchless 
number of men. So it is said in the Vellekla : 

"Hakon, defender of the land, With shining keels seven kings sailed 
Armed in the North his warrior- on 

band ; To meet this raven-feeding one. 

To Sogn's old shore his force he led, When the clash came, the stunning 
And from all quarters thither sped sound 

War-ships and men ; and haste was Was heard in Norway's farthest 

made bound ; 

By the young god of the sword-blade, And sea-borne corpses, floating far, 

The hero- viking of the wave, Brought round the Naze news from 
His wide domain from foes to save. the war." 

Earl Hakon sailed then with his fleet southwards 
around Stad ; and when he heard that King Ragnfred with 
his army had gone towards Sogn, he turned there also 
with his men to meet him: and there Ragnfred and 
Hakon met. Hakon came to the land with his ships, 
marked out a battle-field with hazel branches for King 



Ragnfred, and took ground for his own men in it. So 
it is told in the Vellekla : 

The wielder of fell Narve's weapon, 
The conquering hero, valiant Hakon, 
Had laid his war-ships on the strand, 
And ranged his warriors on the land." 

"In the fierce batle Ragnfred then 
Met the grim foe of Vindland men ; 
And many a hero of great name 
Fell in the sharp sword's bloody 

There was a great battle ; but Earl Hakon, having by 
far the most people, gained the victory. It took place on 
the Thinganes, where Sogn and Hordaland meet. 

King Rangfred fled to his ships, after 300 of his men 
had fallen. So it is said in the Vellekla : 

"Sharp was th battle-strife, I 


Deadly and close it must have been, 
Before, upon the bloody plain, 
Three hundred corpses of the slain 

Were stretched for the black raven's 

prey ; 
And when the conquerors took their 


To the sea-shore, they had to tread 
O'er piled-up heaps of foemen dead." 

After this battle King Ragnfred fled from Norway ; but 
Earl Hakon restored peace to the country, and allowed 
the great army which had followed him in summer to 
return home to the north country, and he himself 
remained in the south that harvest and winter (972). 


Earl Hakon married a girl called Thora, a daughter of 
the powerful Skage Skoptason, and very beautiful she 
was. They had two sons, Svein and Heming, and a 
daughter called Bergljot who was afterwards married to 
Einar Tambaskielfer. Earl Hakon was much addicted to 
women, and had many children ; among others a daughter 
Ragnhild, whom he married to Skopte Skagason, a brother 
of Thora. The Earl loved Thora so much that he held 
Thora' s family in higher respect than any other people, 



and Skopte his brother-in-law in particular; and he gave 
him many great fiefs in More. Whenever they were on a 
cruise together, Skopte must lay his ship nearest to the 
earl's, and no other ship was allowed to come in between. 


One summer that Earl Hakon was on a cruise, there 
was a ship with him of which Thorleif Spake (the Wise) 
was steersman. In it was also Eirik, Earl Hakon's son, 
then about ten or eleven years old. Now in the evenings, 
as they came into harbour, Eirik would not allow any 
ship but his to lie nearest to the earl's. But when they 
came to the south, to More, they met Skopte the earl's 
brother-in-law, with a well-manned ship; and as they 
rowed towards the fleet, Skopte called out that Thorleif 
should move out of the harbour to make room for him, 
and should go to the roadsted. Eirik in haste took up the 
matter, and ordered Skopte to go himself to the roadstead. 
When Earl Hakon heard that his son thought himself too 
great to give place to Skopte, he called to them imme- 
diately that they should haul out from their berth, threat- 
ening them with chastisement if they did not. When 
Thorleif heard this, he ordered his men to slip their land- 
cable, and they did so ; and Skopte laid his vessel next to 
the earl's as he used to do. When they came together, 
Skopte brought the earl all the news he had gathered, and 
the earl communicated to Skopte all the news he had 
heard; and Skopte was therefore called Tidindaskopte 
(the Newsman Skopte). The winter after (973) Eirik 
was with his foster-father Thorleif, and early in spring he 



gathered a crew of followers, and Thorleif gave him a 
boat of fifteen benches of rowers, with ship furniture, 
tents, and ship provisions; and Eirik set out from the 
fjord, and southwards to More. Tidindaskopte hap- 
pened also to be going with a fully manned boat of fifteen 
rowers' benches from one of his farms to another, and 
Eirik went against him to have a battle. Skopte was 
slain, but Eirik granted life to those of his men who were 
still on their legs. So says Eyjolf Dadaskald in the 
Banda lay : 

"At eve the youth went out 
To meet the warrior stout 
To meet stout Skopte he 
Whose war-ship roves the sea. 
Like force was on each side, 
But in the whirling tide 
The young wolf Eirik slew 
Skopte, and all his crew 

And he was a gallant one, 
Dear to the Earl Hakon. 
Up, youth of steel-hard breast- 
No time hast thou to rest ! 
Thy ocean wings spread wide- 
Speed o'er the foaming tide ! 
Speed on speed on thy way ! 
For here thou canst not stay." 

Eirik sailed along the land and came to Denmark, and 
went to King Harald Gormson, and staid with him all 
winter (974). In spring the Danish king sent him north 
to Norway, and gave him an earldom, and the government 
of Vingulmark and Raumarike, on the same terms as the 
small scat-paying kings had formerly held these domains. 
So says Eyjolf Dadaskald : 

"South through ocean's spray 
His dragon flew away 
To Gormson's hall renowned, 
Where the bowl goes bravely round. 

And the Danish king did place 
This youth of noble race 
Where, shield and sword in hand, 
He would aye defend his land." 

Eirik became afterwards a great chief. 


All this time Olaf Trygvason was in Gardarike 
(Russia), and highly esteemed by King Valdemar, and 
beloved by the queen. King Valdemar made him chief 



over the men-at-arms whom he sent out to defend the 
land. So says Hallarstein : 

"The hater of the niggard hand, The wain that ploughs the sea was 

The chief who loves the Northman's then 

land, Loaded with war-gear by his men 

Was only twelve years old when he With swords, and spears, and helms ; 
His Russian war-ships put to sea. and deep 

Out to the sea his good ships sweep." 

Olaf had several battles, and was lucky as a leader of 
troops. He himself kept a great many men-at-arms at 
his own expense out of the pay the king gave him. Olaf 
was very generous to his men, and therefore very popular. 
But then it came to pass, what so often happens when a 
foreigner is raised to higher power and dignity than men 
of the country, that many envied him because he was so 
favoured by the king, and also not less so by the queen. 
They hinted to the king that he should take care not to 
make Olaf too powerful, "for such a man may be dan- 
gerous to you, if he were to allow himself to be used for 
the purpose of doing you or your kingdom harm ; for he is 
extremely expert in all exercises and feats, and very 
popular. We do not, indeed, know w r hat it is he can have 
to talk of so often with the queen." It was then the 
.custom among great monarchs that the queen should have 
half of the court attendants, and she supported them at 
her own expense out of the scat and revenue provided for 
her for that purpose. It was so also at the court of King 
Valdemar that the queen had an attendance as large as the 
king, and they vied with each other about the finest men, 
each wanting to have such in their own service. It so 
fell out that the king listened to such speeches, and became 
somewhat silent and blunt towards Olaf. When Olaf 



observed this, he told it to the queen ; and also that he had 
a great desire to travel to the Northern land, where his 
family formerly had power and kingdoms, and where it 
was most likely he would advance himself. The queen 
wished him a prosperous journey ,and said he would be 
found a brave man wherever he might be. Olaf then 
made ready, went on board, and set out to sea in the 

As he was coming from the east he made the island of 
Borgundarholm (Bornholm), where he landed and plun- 
dered. The country people hastened down to the strand, 
and gave him battle; but Olaf gained the victory, and a 
large booty. 


While Olaf lay at Borgundarholm there came on bad 
weather, storm, and a heavy sea, so that his ships could 
not lie there; and he sailed southwards under Vindland, 
where they found a good harbour. They conducted them- 
selves very peacefully, and remained some time. In Vind- 
land there was then a king called Burizleif, who had three 
daughters, Geira, Gunhild, and Astrid. The king's 
daughter Geira had the power and government in that part 
where Olaf and his people landed, and Dixen was the name 
of the man who most usually advised Queen Geira. Now 
when they heard that unknown people were come to the 
country, who were of distinguished appearance, and con- 
ducted themselves peaceably, Dixen repaired to them 
with a message from Queen Geira, inviting the strangers 
to take up their winter abode with her ; for the summer 



was almost spent, and the weather was severe and stormy. 
Now when Dixen came to the place he soon saw that the 
leader was a distinguished man, both from family and 
personal appearance, and he told Olaf the queen's invita- 
tion with the most kindly message. Olaf willingly 
accepted the invitation, and went in harvest (982) to 
Queen Geira. They liked each other exceedingly, and 
Olaf courted Queen Geira ; and it was so settled that Olaf 
married her the same winter, and was ruler, along with 
Queen Geira, over her dominions. Halfred Vandreda- 
skald tells of these matters in the lay he composed about 
King Olaf: 

"Why should the deeds the hero did His deadly weapon Olaf bold 
In Bornholm and the East he hid? Dyed red: why should not this be 



Earl Hakon ruled over Norway, and paid no scat; 
because the Danish king gave him all the scat revenue that 
belonged to the king in Norway, for the expense and 
trouble he had in defending the country against Gun- 
hild's sons. 


The Emperor Otta (Ot'o) was at that time in the 
Saxon country, and sent a message to King Harald, the 
Danish king, that he must take on the true faith and be 
baptized, he and all his people whom he ruled; "other- 
wise," says the emperor, "we will march against him with 
an army." The Danish king ordered the land defence to 



be fitted out, Danavirke 1 (the Danish wall) to be well 
fortified, and his ships of war rigged out. He sent a 
message also to Earl Hakon in Norway to come to him 
early in spring, and with as many men as he could possibly 
raise. In spring (975) Earl Hakon levied an army over 
the whole country which was very numerous, and with it 
he sailed to meet the Danish king. The king received him 
in the most honourable manner. Many other chiefs also 
joined the Danish king with their men, so that he had 
gathered a very large army. 


Olaf Trygvason had been all winter (982) in Vind- 
land, as before related, and went the same winter to the 
baronies in Vindland which had formerly been under 
Queen Geira, but had withdrawn themselves from 
obedience and payment of taxes. There Olaf made war, 
killed many people, burnt out others, took much property, 
and laid all of them under subjection to him, and then 
went back to his castle. Early in spring Olaf rigged out 
his ships and set off to sea. He sailed to Skane and 
made a landing. The people of the country assembled, 
and gave him battle ; but King Olaf conquered, and made 
a great booty. He then sailed eastward to the island of 
Gotland, where he captured a merchant vessel belonging 
to the people of Jamtaland. They made a brave defence ; 
but the end of it was that Olaf cleared the deck, killed 
many of the men, and took all the goods. He had a third 

Danavirke. The Danish work was a wall of earth, stones, and wood, 
with a deep ditch in front, and a castlo at every hundred fathoms, between 
the rivers Eider and Slien, constructed by Harald Blatand (Bluetooth) to 
oppose the progress of Charlemagne. Some traces of it still exist. L. 



battle in Gotland, in which he also gained the victory, and 
made a great booty. So says Half red Vandredaskald : 

"The king, so fierce in battle-fray, 
First made the Vindland men give 

way : 

The Gotlanders must tremble next ; 
And Scania's shores are sorely vexed 

By the sharp pelting arrow shower 
The hero and his warriors pour ; 
And then the Jamtaland men must 

Scared by his well-known battle-cry." 


The Emperor Otta assembled a great army from Sax- 
land, Frakland, Frisland, and Vindland. King Buriz- 
leif followed him with a large army, and in it was 
his son-in-law, Olaf Trygvason. The emperor had a 
great body of horsemen, and still greater of foot people, 
and a great army from Holstein. Harald, the Danish 
king, sent Earl Hakon with the army of Northmen that 
followed him southwards to Danavirke, to defend his 
kingdom on that side. So it is told in the "Vellekla :" 

"Over the foaming salt sea spray 
The Norse sea-horses took their way, 
Racing across the ocean-plain 
Southwards to Denmark's green do- 

The gallant chief of Hordaland 
Sat at the helm with steady hand, 
In casque and shield, his men to bring 
Prom Dovre to his friend the king. 
He steered his war-ships o'er the 


To help the Danish king to save 
Mordalf, who, with a gallant band 

Was hastening from the Jutes' wild 


Across the forest frontier rude, 
With toil and pain through the thick 


Glad was the Danish king, I trow, 
When he saw Hakon's galley's prow. 
The monarch straightway gave com- 

To Hakon, with a steel-clad band, 
To man the Dane-work's rampart 

And keep the foreign foemen out." 

The Emperor Otta came with his army from the south 
to Danavirke, but Earl Hakon defended the rampart with 
his men. The Dane-work (Danavirke) was constructed 
in this way: Two fjords run into the land, one on each 
side; and in the farthest bight of these fjords the Danes 
had made a great wall of stone, turf, and timber, and dug 
a deep and broad ditch in front of it, and had also built a 



castle over each gate of it. There was a hard battle there, 
of which the "Vellekla" speaks: 

"Thick the storm of arrows flew, But little recked our gallant men ; 

Loud was the din, black was the view And loud the cry might be heard then 

Of close array of shield and spear Of Norway's brave sea-roving son 

Of Vind, and Frank, and Saxon there. 'On 'gainst the foe ! on ! lead us on !' " 

Earl Hakon drew up his people in ranks upon all the 
gate-towers of the wall, but the greater part of them he 
kept marching along the wall to make a defence whereso- 
ever an attack was threatened. Many of the emperor's 
people fell without making any impression on the fortifi- 
cation, so the emperor turned back without farther 
attempt at an assault on it. So it is said in the 
"Vellekla" :- 

"They who the eagle's feast provide Earl Hakon drives by daring deeds 

In ranked line fought side by side, These Saxons to their ocean-steeds ; 

'Gainst lines of war-men under And the young hero saves from fall 

shields The Danavirke the people's wall." 
Close packed together on the fields. 

After this battle Earl Hakon went back to his ships, 
and intended to sail home to Norway ; but he did not get 
a favourable wind, and lay for some time outside at Lima- 


The Emperor Otta turned back with his troops to 
Slesvik, collected his ships of war, and crossed the fjord 
of Sle into Jutland. As soon as the Danish king heard 
of this he marched his army against him, and there was 
a battle, in which the emperor at last got the victory. The 
Danish king fled to Limafjord and took refuge in the 
island Marsey. By the help of mediators who went 
between the king and the emperor, a truce and a meeting 



between them were agreed on. The Emperor Otta and 
the Danish king met upon Marsey. There Bishop 
Poppo instructed King Harald in the holy faith ; he bore 
red hot irons in his hands, and exhibited his unscorched 
hands to the king. Thereafter King Harald allowed 
himself to be baptized, and also the whole Danish army. 
King Harald, while he was in Marsey, had sent a message 
to Hakon that he should come to his succour ; and the earl 
had just reached the island when the king had received 
baptism. The king sends word to the earl to come to 
him, and when they met the king forced the earl to allow 
himself also to be baptized. So Earl Hakon and all the 
men who were with him were baptized ; and the king gave 
them priests and other learned men with them, and 
ordered that the earl should make all the people in Nor- 
way be baptized. On that they separated; and the earl 
went out to sea, there to wait for a wind. 


When a wind came with which he thought he could get 
clear out to sea, he put all the learned men on shore again, 
and set off to the ocean ; but as the wind came round to 
the south-west, and at last to west, he sailed eastward, 
out through Eyrarsund, ravaging the land on both sides. 
He then sailed eastward along Skane, plundering the 
country wherever he came. When he got east to the 
skerries of East Gautland, he ran in and landed, and made 
a great blood-sacrifice. There came two ravens flying 
which croaked loudly; and now, thought the earl, the 
blood-offering has been accepted by Odin, and he thought 



good luck would be with him any day he liked to go to 
battle. Then he set fire to his ships, landed his men, and 
went over all the country with armed hand. Earl Ottar, 
who ruled over Gautland, came against him, and they held 
a great battle with each other; but Earl Hakon gained 
the day, and Earl Ottar and a great part of his men were 
killed. Earl Hakon now drove with fire and sword over 
both the Gautlands, until he came into Norway ; and then 
he proceeded by land all the way north to Throndhjem. 
The "Vellekla" tells about this : 

"On the silent battle-field, 
In viking garb, with axe and shield, 
The warrior, striding o'er the slain, 
Asks of the gods 'What days will 

gain ?' 

Two ravens, flying from the east, 
Come croaking to the bloody feast : 
The warrior knows what they fore- 
The days when Gautland blood will 


A viking-feast Earl Hakon kept, 
The land with viking fury swept, 
Harrying the land far from the shore 
Where foray ne'er was known before. 
Leaving the barren cold coast side, 

He raged through Gautland far and 

Led many a gold-decked viking 


O'er many a peaceful inland field. 
Bodies on bodies Odin found 
Heaped high upon each battle 

ground : 

The moor, as if by witchcraft's power, 
Grows green, enriched by bloody 


No wonder that the gods delight 
To give such luck in every fight 
To Hakon's men for he restores 
Their temples on our Norway 



The Emperor Otta went back to his kingdom in the 
Saxon land, and parted in friendship with the Danish 
king. It is said that the Emperor Otta stood godfather to 
Svein, King Harald's son, and gave him his name ; so that 
he was baptized Otta Svein. King Harald held fast by 
his Christianity to his dying day. 

King Burizleif went to Vindland, and his son-in-law 
King Olaf went with him. This battle is related also by 
Halfred Vandredaskald in his song on Olaf: 

"He who through the foaming surges 
His white-winged ocean-coursers 

Hewed from the Danes, in armour 

The iron bark off mail-clad breast." 



Olaf Trygvason was three years in Vindland (982-084) 
when Geira his queen fell sick, and she died of her illness. 
Olaf felt his loss so great that he had no pleasure in Vind- 
land after it. He provided himself, therefore, with war- 
ships, and went out again a plundering, and plundered 
first in Frisland, next in Saxland, and then all the way to 
Flaemingjaland (Flanders). So says Half red Vandre- 
daskald : 

"Olaf's broad axe of shining steel Her horses slake their thirst, and fly 

For the shy wolf left many a meal. On to the field where Flemings lie. 

The ill-shaped Saxon corpses lay The raven-friend in Odin's dress 

Heaped up, the witch-wife's horses' 1 Olaf, who foes can well repress, 

prey. Left Flemish flesh for many a meal 

She rides by night : at pools of blood, With his broad axe of shining steel." 
Where Frisland men in daylight 



Thereafter Olaf Trygvason sailed to England, and 
ravaged wide around in the land. He sailed all the way 
north to Northumberland, where he plundered; and 
thence to Scotland, where he marauded far and wide. 
Then he went to the Hebrides, where he fought some 
battles; and then southwards to Man, where he also 
fought. He ravaged far around in Ireland, and thence 
steered to Bretland, which he laid waste with fire and 
sword, and all the district called Cumberland. He sailed 
westward from thence to Valland, and marauded there. 
When he left the west, intending to sail to England, he 
came to the islands called the Scilly Isles, lying westward 
from England in the ocean. Thus tells Halfred Van- 
dredaskald of these events: 

havens were the witches' horses. L. 



"The brave young king, who ne'er 

The Englishman in England beats. 

Death through Northumberland is 

Prom battleaxe and broad spear- 

Through Scotland with his spears he 
rides ; 

To Man his glancing ships he guides : 

Feeding the wolves where'er he came, 
The young king drove a bloody game. 
The gallant bowmen in the isles 
Slew foemen, who lay heaped in piles. 
The Irish fled at Olaf's name 
Fled from a young king seeking fame. 
In Bretland, and in Cumberland, 
People against him could not stand : 
Thick on the fields their corpses lay, 
To ravens and howlng wolves a 

Olaf Trygvason had been four years on this cruise 
(985-988), from the time he left Vindland till he came 
to the Scilly Islands. 


While Olaf Trygvason lay in the Scilly Isles he heard 
of a seer, or fortune-teller, on the islands, who could tell 
beforehand things not yet done, and what he foretold 
many believed was really fulfilled. Olaf became curious 
to try this man's gift of prophecy. He therefore sent 
one of his men, who was the handsomest and strongest, 
clothed him magnificently, and bade him say he was the 
king; for Olaf was known in all countries as handsomer, 
stronger, and braver than all others, although, after he 
had left Russia, he retained no more of his name than 
that he was called Ole, and was Russian. Now when 
the messenger came to the fortune-teller, and gave him- 
self out for the king, he got the answer, "Thou art not 
the king, but I advise thee to be faithful to thy king." 
And more he would not say to that man. The man re- 
turned, and told Olaf, and his desire to meet the fortune- 
teller was increased; and now he had no doubt of his 
being really a fortune-teller. Olaf repaired himself to 
him, and, entering into conversation, asked him if he 



could foresee how it would go with him with regard to 
his kingdom, or of any other fortune he was to have. 
The hermit replies in a holy spirit of prophecy, "Thou 
wilt become a renowned king, and do celebrated deeds. 
Many men wilt thou bring to faith and baptism, and both 
to thy own and others' good; and that thou mayst have 
no doubt of the truth of this answer, listen to these tok- 
ens: When thou comest to thy ships many of thy peo- 
ple will conspire against thee, and then a battle will fol- 
low in which many of thy men will fall, and thou wilt be 
wounded almost to death, and carried upon a shield to 
thy ship; yet after seven days thou shalt be well of thy 
wounds, and immediately thou shalt let thyself be bap- 
tized." Soon after Olaf went down to his ships, where 
he met some mutineers and people who would destroy 
him and his men. A fight took place, and the result was 
what the hermit had predicted, that Olaf was wounded, 
and carried upon a shield to his ship, and that his wound 
was healed in seven days. Then Olaf perceived that the 
man had spoken truth, that he was a true fortune-teller, 
and had the gift of prophecy. Olaf went once more to 
the hermit, and asked particularly how he came to have 
such wisdom in foreseeing things to be. The hermit re- 
plied, that the Christian God himself let him know all 
that he desired ; and he brought before Olaf many great 
proofs of the power of the Almighty. In consequence 
of this encouragement Olaf agreed to let himself be bap- 
tized, and he and all his followers were baptized forth- 
with. He remained here a long time, took the true faith, 
and got with him priests and other learned men. 



In autumn (988) Olaf sailed from Scilly to England, 
where he put into a harbour, but proceeded in a friendly 
way ; for England was Christian, and he himself had be- 
come Christian. At this time a summons to a Thing 
went through the country, that all men should come to 
hold a Thing. Now when the Thing was assembled a 
queen called Gyda came to it, a sister of Olaf Kvaran, 
who was king of Dublin in Ireland. She had been mar- 
ried to a great earl in England, and after his death she 
was at the head of his dominions. In her territory there 
was a man called Alfvine, who was a great champion and 
single-combat man. He had paid his addresses to her; 
but she gave for answer, that she herself would choose 
whom of the men in her dominions she would take in 
marriage; and on that account the Thing was assembled, 
that she might choose a husband. Alfvine came there 
dressed out in his best clothes, and there were many 
well-dressed men at the meeting. Olaf had come there 
also; but had on his bad-weather clothes, and a coarse 
over-garment, and stood with his people apart from the 
rest of the crowd. Gyda went round and looked at each, 
to see if any appeared to her a suitable man. Now when 
she came to where Olaf stood she looked at him straight 
in the face, and asked "what sort of man he was?" 
He said, "I am called Ole; and I am a stranger here." 
Gyda replies, "Wilt thou have me if I choose thee?" 
"I will not say no to that," answered he; and he asked 
what her name was, and her family, and descent. 

"I am called Gyda," said she; "and am daughter of the 



king of Ireland, and was married in this country to an 
earl who ruled over this territory. Since his death I have 
ruled over it, and many have courted me, but none to 
whom I would choose to be married." 

She was a young and handsome woman. They after- 
wards talked over the matter together, and agreed, and 
Olaf and Gyda were betrothed. 


Alfvine was very ill pleased with this. It was the cus- 
tom then in England, if two strove for anything, to set- 
tle the matter by single combat ;* and now Alfvine chal- 
lenges Olaf Trygvason to fight about this business. The 
time and place for the combat were settled, and that each 
should have twelve men with him. When they met, Olaf 
told his men to do exactly as they saw him do. He had 
a large axe; and when Alfvine was going to cut at him 
with his sword he hewed away the sword out of his hand, 
and with the next blow struck down Alfvine himself. 
He then bound him fast. It went in the same way with 
all Alfvine' s men. They were beaten down, bound, and 
carried to Olaf s lodging. Thereupon he ordered Alf- 
vine to quit the country, and never appear in it again ; and 
Olaf took all his property. Olaf in this way got Gyda 
in marriage, and lived sometimes in England, and some- 
times in Ireland. 


While Olaf was in Ireland he was once on an expedi- 

VHolm-gang ; so called because the combatants went to a holm or 
uninhabited isle to fight in Norway. L. 



tion which went by sea. As they required to make a 
foray for provisions on the coast, some of his men landed, 
and drove down a large herd of cattle to the strand. 
Now a peasant came up, and entreated Olaf to give him 
back the cows that belonged to him. Olaf told him to 
take his cows, if he could distinguish them; "but don't 
delay our march." The peasant had with him a large 
house-dog, which he put in among the herd of cattle, in 
which many hundred head of beasts were driven together. 
The dog ran into the herd, and drove out exactly the 
number which the peasant had said he wanted; and all 
were marked with the same mark, which showed that the 
dog knew the right beasts, and was very sagacious. 
Olaf then asked the peasant if he would sell him the dog. 
"I would rather give him, to you," said the peasant. Olaf 
immediately presented him with a gold ring in return, 
and promised him his friendship in future. This dog 
was called Vige, and was the very best of dogs, and Olaf 
owned him long afterwards. 


The Danish king, Harald Gormson, heard that Earl 
Hakon had thrown off Christianity, and had plundered 
far and wide in the Danish land. The Danish king 
levied an army, with which he went to Norway ; and when 
he came to the country which Earl Hakon had to rule 
over he laid waste the whole land, and came with his fleet 
to some islands called Solunder. Only five houses were 
left standing in Lseradal; but all the people fled up to 
the mountains, and into the forest, taking with them all 



the moveable goods they could carry with them. Then 
the Danish king proposed to sail with his fleet to Iceland, 
to avenge the mockery and scorn all the Icelanders had 
shown towards him ; for they had made a law in Iceland, 
that they should make as many lampoons against the 
Danish king as there were headlands in his country ; and 
the reason was, because a vessel which belonged to cer- 
tain Icelanders was stranded in Denmark, and the Danes 
took all the property, and called it wreck. One of the 
king's bailiffs called Birger was to blame for this; but 
the lampoons were made against both. In the lampoons 
were the following lines : 

"The gallant Harald in the field And Birger, he who dwells in halls 

Between his legs lets drop his shield ; For safety built with four stone walls, 

Into a pony he was changed, That these might be a worthy pair, 

And kicked his shield, and safely Was changed into a pony mare." 


King Harald told a warlock to hie to Iceland in some 
altered shape, and to try what he could learn there to tell 
him : and he set out in the shape of a whale. And when 
he came near to the land he went to the west side of Ice- 
land, north around the land, where he saw all the moun- 
tains and hills full of guardian-spirits, some great, some 
small. When he came to Vapnaf jord he went in towards 
the land, intending to go on shore; but a huge dragon 
rushed down the dale against him with a train of ser- 
pents, paddocks, and toads, that blew poison towards 
him. Then he turned to go westward around the land 
as far as Eyjafjord, and he went into the fjord. Then 
a bird flew against him, which was so great that its wings 



stretched over the mountains on either side of the fjord, 
and many birds, great and small, with it. Then he swam 
farther west, and then south into Breidaf jord. When he 
came into the fjord a large grey bull ran against him, 
wading into the sea, and bellowing fearfully, and he was 
followed by a crowd of land-spirits. From thence he 
went round by Reyk janes, and wanted to land at Vikars- 
skeid, but there came down a hill-giant against him with 
an iron staff in his hands. He was a head higher than 
the mountains, and many other giants followed him. He 
then swam eastward along the land, and there was noth- 
ing to see, he said, but sand and vast deserts, and, with- 
out the skerries, high-breaking surf; and the ocean be- 
tween the countries was so wide that a long-ship could not 
cross it. At that time Brodhelge dwelt in Vapnafjord, 
Eyjolf Valgerdson in Eyjafjord, Thord Geller in 
Breidafjord, and Thorod Gode in Olfus. Then the 
Danish king turned about with his fleet, and sailed back 
to Denmark. 

Hakon the earl settled habitations again in the country 
that had been laid waste, and paid no scat as long as he 
lived to Denmark. 


Svein, King Harald's son, who afterwards was called 
Tjuguskeg (forked beard), asked his father King Har- 
ald for a part of his kingdom; but now, as before, Har- 
ald would not listen to dividing the Danish dominions, 
and giving him a kingdom. Svein collected ships of war, 
and gave out that he was going on a viking cruise; but 



when all his men were assembled, and the Jomsborg vik- 
ing Palnatoke had come to his assistance he ran into 
Sealand to Isafjord, where his father had been for some 
time with his ships ready to proceed on an expedition. 
Svein instantly gave battle, and the combat was severe. 
So many people flew to assist King Harald, that Svein 
was overpowered by numbers, and fled. But King Har- 
ald received a wound which ended in his death: and 
Svein was chosen King of Denmark. At this time Sig- 
valde was earl over Jomsborg in Vindland. He was a 
son of King Strutharald, who had ruled over Skane. 
Heming, and Thorkel the Tall, were Sigvalde's brothers. 
Bue the Thick from Bornholm, and Sigurd his brother, 
were also chiefs among the Jomsborg vikings : and also 
Vagn, a son of Ake and Thorgunna, and a sister's son of 
Bue and Sigurd. Earl Sigvalde had taken King Svein pris- 
oner, and carried him to Vindland, to Jomsborg, where 
he had forced him to make peace with Burizleif, the king 
of the Vinds, and to take him as the peace-maker between 
them. Earl Sigvalde was married to Astrid, a daughter 
of King Burizleif; and told King Svein that if he did not 
accept of his terms, he would deliver him into the hands 
of the Vinds. The king knew that they would torture 
him to death, and therefore agreed to accept the earl's 
mediation. The earl delivered this judgment between 
them that King Svein should marry Gunhild, King 
Burizleif 's daughter; and King Burizleif again Thyre, 
a daughter of Harald, and King S vein's sister ; but that 
each party should retain their own dominions, and there 
should be peace between the countries. Then King Svein 



returned home to Denmark with his wife Gunhild. Their 
sons were Harald and Knut (Canute) the Great. At 
that time the Danes threatened much to bring 1 an army 
into Norway against Earl Hakon. 


King Svein made a magnificent feast, to which he in- 
vited all the chiefs in his dominions; for he would give 
the succession-feast, or the heirship-ale, after his father 
Harald. A short time before, Strutharald in Skane, and 
Vesete in Bornholm, father to Bue the Thick and to 
Sigurd, had died ; and King Svein sent word to the 
Jomsborg vikings that Earl Sigvalde and Bue, and their 
brothers, should come to him, and drink the funeral-ale 
for their fathers in the same feast the king was giving. 
The Jomsborg vikings came to the festival with their 
bravest men, forty ships of them from Vindland, and 
twenty ships from Skane. Great was the multitude of 
people assembled. The first day of the feast, before 
King Svein went up into his father's high-seat, he drank 
the bowl to his father's memory, and made the solemn 
vow, that before three winters were past he would go 
over with his army to Eingland, and either kill King 
Adalrad (Ethelred), or chase him out of the country. 
This heirship bowl all who were at the feast drank. 
Thereafter for the chiefs of the Jomsborg vikings was 
filled and drunk the largest horn to be found, and of the 
strongest drink. When that bowl was emptied, all men 
drank Christ's health ; and again the fullest measure and 
the strongest drink were handed to the Jomsborg vik- 



ings. The third bowl was to the memory of Saint 
Michael, which was drunk by all. Thereafter Earl Sig- 
valde emptied a remembrance bowl to his father's hon- 
our, and made the solemn vow, that before three winters 
came to an end he would go to Norway, and either kill 
Earl Hakon, or chase him out of the country. There- 
upon Thorkel the Tall, his brother, made a solemn vow to 
follow his brother Sigvalde to Norway, and not flinch 
from the battle so long as Sigvalde would fight there. 
Then Bue the Thick vowed to follow them to Norway, 
and not flinch so long as the other Jomsborg vikings 
fought. At last Vagn Akason vowed that he would go 
with them to Norway, and not return until he had slain 
Thorkel Leira, and gone to bed to his daughter Ingebjorg 
without her friends' consent. Many other chiefs made 
solemn vows about different things. Thus was the heir- 
ship-ale drunk that day, but the next morning, when the 
Jomsborg vikings had selpt off their drink, they thought 
they had spoken more than enough. They held a meet- 
ing to consult how they should proceed with their under- 
taking, and they determined to fit out as speedily as pos- 
sible for the expedition ; and without delay ships and men- 
at-arms were prepared, and the news spread quickly. 


When Earl Eirik, the son of Hakon, who at that time 
was in Raumarike, heard the tidings, he immediately 
gathered troops, and went to the Uplands, and thence 
over the mountains to Throndhjem, and joined his father 
Earl Hakon. Thord Kolbeinson speaks of this in the lay 
of Eirik:- 


"News from the south are flying I hear that in the Danish land 

round ; Long-sided ships slide down the 
The bonde comes with look profound, strand, 

Bad news of bloody battles bringing, And, floating with the rising tide, 

Of steel-clad men, of weapons ringing. The ocean-coursers soon will ride." 

The earls Hakon and Eirik had war-arrows split up 
and sent round the Throndhjem country ; and despatched 
messages to both the Mores, North More and South More, 
and to Raumsdal, and also north to Naumudal and Halo- 
galand. They summoned all the country to provide both 
men and ships. So it is said in Eirik's lay : 

"The skald must now a war-song Ships, cutters, boats, from the far 

raise, north. 

The gallant active youth must praise, His mighty fleet comes sailing by, 
Who o'er the ocean's field spreads From headlands many a mast we spy : 

forth The people run to see them glide, 

Mast after mast, by the coast-side." 

Earl Hakon set out immediately to the south, to More, 
to reconnoitre and gather people ; and Earl Eirik gathered 
an army from the north to follow. 


The Jomsborg vikings assembled their fleet in Lima- 
fjord, from whence they went to sea with sixty sail of 
vessels. When they came under the coast of Agder, they 
steered northwards to Rogaland with their fleet, and be- 
gan to plunder when they came into the earl's territory; 
and so they sailed north along the coast, plundering and 
burning. A man, by name Geirmund, sailed in a light 
boat with a few men northwards to More, and there he 
fell in with Earl Hakon, stood before his dinner table, 
and told the earl the tidings of an army from Denmark 
having come to the south end of the land. The earl 
asked if he had any certainty of it. Then Geirmund 
stretched forth one arm, from which the hand was cut 



off, and said, "Here is the token that the enemy is in the 
land." Then the earl questioned him particularly about 
this army. Geirmund says it consists of Jomsborg vik- 
ings, who have killed many people, and plundered all 
around. "And hastily and hotly they pushed on," says 
he, "and I expect it will not be long before they are upon 
you." On this the earl rode into every fjord, going in 
along the one side of the land and out at the other, col- 
lecting men ; and thus he drove along night and day. He 
sent spies out upon the upper ridges, and also southwards 
into the Fjords; and he proceeded north to meet Eirik 
with his men. This appears from Eirik's lay : 

"The earl, well skilled in war to Rollers beneath the ships' keels 

speed crash, 

O'er the wild wave the viking-steed, Oar-blades loud in the grey sea 
Now launched the high stems from splash, 

the shore, And they who give the ravens food 

Which death to Sigvalde's vikings Row fearless through the curling 

bore. flood." 

Eirik hastened southwards with his forces the shortest 
way he could. 


Earl Sigvalde steered with his fleet northwards around 
Stad, and came to the land at the Herey Isles. Although 
the vikings fell in with the country people, the people 
never told the truth about what the earl was doing; and 
the vikings went on pillaging and laying waste. They 
laid to their vessels at the outer end of Hod Island, 
landed, plundered, and drove both men and cattle down 
to the ships, killing all the men able to bear arms. 

As they were going back to their ships, came a bonde, 
walking near to Bue's troop, who said to them, "Ye are 



not doing like true warriors, to be driving cows and calves 
down to the strand, while ye should be giving chase to 
the bear, since ye are coming near to the bear's den." 

"What says the old man?" asked some. "Can he tell 
us anything about Earl Hakon?" 

The peasant replies, "The earl went yesterday into 
the Hjorundarfjord with one or two ships, certainly 
not more than three, and then he had no news about 

Bue ran now with his people in all haste down to the 
ships, leaving all the booty behind. Bue said, "Let us 
avail ourselves now of this news we have got of the earl, 
and be the first to the victory." When they came to 
their ships they rode off from the land. Earl Sigvalde 
called to them, and asked what they were about. They 
replied, "The earl is in the fjord;" on which Earl Sig- 
valde with the whole fleet set off, and rowed north about 
the island Hod. 


The earls Hakon and Eirik lay in Halkelsvik, where 
all their forces were assembled. They had 150 ships, 
and they had heard that the Jomsborg vikings had come 
in from sea, and lay at the island Hod ; and they, in con- 
sequence, rowed out to seek them. When they reached 
a place called Hjorungavag they met each other, and both 
sides drew up their ships in line for an attack. Earl 
Sigvalde's banner was displayed in the midst of his army, 
and right against it Earl Hakon arranged his force for 
attack. Earl Sigvalde himself had 20 ships, but Earl 



Hakon had 60. In Earl Hakon's army were these chiefs, 
Thorer Hjort from Halogaland, and Styrkar from 
Gimsar. In the wing of the opposite array of the Joms- 
borg vikings was Btie the Thick, and his brother Sigurd, 
with 20 ships. Against him Earl Eirik laid himself with 
60 ships; and with him were these chiefs, Gudbrand 
Hvite from the Uplands, and Thorkel Leira from Viken. 
In the other wing of the Jomsborg vikings' array was 
Vagn Akason with 20 ships ; and against him stood Svein 
the son of Hakon, in whose division was Skep-ge of 
Yrjar at Uphaug, and Rognvald of ^Ervik at Stad, with 
60 ships. It is told in the Eirik's lay thus: 

"The bonde's ships along the coast The Danish ships, of court-men full, 

Sailed on to meet the foemen's host ; Were cleared of men, and many a 
The stout earl's ships, with eagle hull 

flight, Was driving empty on the main, 

Rushed on the Danes in. bloody fight. With the warm corpses of the slain." 

Eyvind Skaldaspiller says also in the "Haleygja-tal" 

'"Twas at the peep of day, No joyful morn arose 

Our brave earl led the way ; For Yngve Frey's base foes 

His ocean horses bounding These Christian island-men 

His war-horns loudly sounding! Wished themselves home again." 

Then the fleets came together, and one of the sharpest 
of conflicts began. Many fell on both sides, but the most 
by far on Hakon's side; for the Jomsborg vikings fought 
desperately, sharply, and murderously, and shot right 
through the shields. So many spears were thrown 
against Earl Hakon that his armour was altogether split 
asunder, and he threw it off. So says Tind Halkel- 

"The ring-linked coat of strongest Though sewed with care and elbow 

mail bent, 

Could not withstand the iron hail, By Norn, 1 on its strength intent. 

a Norn, one of the Fates, stands here for women, whose business it 
was to sew the rings of iron upon the cloth which made these ring-mail 
coats or shirts. The needles, although some of them were of gold, appear 
to have been without eyes, and used like shoemaker's awls. L. 



The fire of battle raged around, Part of it fell into the sea, 

Odin's steel shirt flew all unbound ! A part was kept, a proof to be 

The earl his ring-mail from him How sharp and thick the arrow-flight 

flung, Among the sea-steeds in this fight." 
Its steel rings on the wet deck rung ; 


The Jomsborg vikings had larger and higher-sided 
ships; and both parties fought desperately. Vagn Aka- 
son laid his ship on board of Svein Earl Hakon's son's 
ship, and Svein allowed his ship to give way, and was on 
the point of flying. Then Earl Eirik came up, and laid 
his ship alongside of Vagn, and then Vagn gave way, 
and the ships came to lie in the same position as before. 
Thereupon Erirk goes to the other wing, which had gone 
back a little, and Bue had cut the ropes, intending to 
pursue them. Then Eirik laid himself, board to board, 
alongside of Bue's ship, and there was a severe combat 
hand to hand. Two or three of Eirik's ships then laid 
themselves upon Bue's single vessel. A thunder-storm 
came on at this moment, and such a heavy hail-storm that 
every hailstone weighed a pennyweight. The Earl Sig- 
valde cut his cable, turned his ship round, and took flight. 
Vagn Akason called to him not to fly; but as Earl Sig- 
valde paid no attention to what he said, Vagn threw his 
spear at him, and hit the man at the helm. Earl Sig- 
valde rowed away with 35 ships, leaving 25 of his fleet 


Then Earl Hakon laid his ship on the other side of 
Bue's ship, and now came heavy blows on Bue's men. 
Vigfus, a son of Vigaglum, took up an anvil with a 



sharp end, which lay upon the deck, and on which a man 
had welded the hilt to his sword just before, and being 
a very strong man cast the anvil with both hands at the 
head of Aslak Holmskalle, and the end of it went into his 
brains. Before this no weapon could wound this Aslak, 
who was Bue's foster-brother, and forecastle commander, 
although he could wound right and left. Another man 
among the strongest and bravest was Havard Hoggande. 
In this attack Eirik's men boarded Bue's ship, and went 
aft to the quarter-deck where Bue stood. There Thors- 
tein Midlang cut at Bue across his nose, so that the nose- 
piece of his helmet was cut in two, and he got a great 
wound ; but Bue, in turn, cut at Thorstein's side, so that 
the sword cut the man through. Then Bue lifted up two 
chests full of gold, and called aloud, "Overboard all 
Bue's men," and threw himself overboard with his two 
chests. Many of his people sprang overboard with him. 
Some fell in the ship, for it was of no use to call for 
quarter. Bue's ship was cleared of people from stem to 
stern, and afterwards all the others, the one after the 


Earl Eirik then laid himself alongside of Vagn's ship, 
and there was a brave defence ; but at last this ship too 
was cleared, and Vagn and thirty men were taken pris- 
oners, and bound, and brought to land. Then came up 
Thorkel Leira, and said, "Thou madest a solemn vow, 
Vagn, to kill me; but now it seems more likely that I 
will kill thee." Vagn and his men sat all upon a log of 



wood together. Thorkel had an axe in his hands, with 
which he cut at him who sat outmost on the log. Vagn 
and the other prisoners were bound so that a rope was 
fastened on their feet, but they had their hands free. One 
of them said, "I will stick this cloak-pin that I have in 
my hand into the earth, if it be so that I know anything, 
after my head is cut off." His head was cut off, but the 
cloak-pin fell from his hand. There sat also a very 
handsome man with long hair, who twisted his hair over 
his head, put out his neck, and said, "Don't make my 
hair bloody." A man took the hair in his hands and held 
it fast. Thorkel hewed with his axe; but the viking 
twitched his head so strongly that he who was holding 
his hair fell forwards, and the axe cut off both his hands, 
and stuck fast in the earth. Then Earl Eirik came up, 
and asked, "Who is that handsome man ?" 

He replies, "I am called Sigurd, and am Bue's son. 
But are all the Jomsborg vikings dead?" 

Eirik says, "Thou art certainly Bue's son. Wilt thou 
now take life and peace?" 

"That depends," says he, "upon who it is that offers it." 
"He offers who has the power to do it Earl Eirik." 
"That will I," says he, "from his hands." And now 
the rope was loosened from him. 

Then said Thorkel Leira, "Although thou should give 
all these men life and peace, earl, Vagn Akason shall 
never come from this with life." And he ran at him with 
uplifted axe ; but the viking Skarde swung himself in the 
rope, and let himself fall just before Thorkel's feet, so 
that Thorkel fell over him, and Vagn caught the axe 

12 167 


and gave Thorkel a death-wound. Then said the earl, 

"Vagn, wilt thou accept life?" 

"That I will," says he, "if you give it to all of us." 
"Loose them from the rope," said the earl ; and it was 

done. Eighteen were killed, and twelve got their lives. 


Earl Hakon, and many with him, were sitting upon a 
piece of wood, and a bow-string twanged from Bue's 
ship, and the arrow struck Gissur from Valders, who was 
sitting next the earl, and was clothed splendidly. There- 
upon the people went on board, and found Havard Hog- 
gande standing on his knees at the ship's railing, for his 
feet had been cut off, 1 and he had a bow in his hand. 
When they came on board the ship Havard asked, "Who 
fell by that shaft?" 

They answered, "A man called Gissur." 

"Then my luck was less than I thought," said he. 

"Great enough was the misfortune," replied they; 
"but thou shalt not make it greater." And they killed 
him on the spot. 

The dead were then ransacked, and the booty brought 
all together to be divided ; and there were twenty-five ships 
of the Jomsborg vikings in the booty. So says Tind: 

"Many a viking's body lay He whom the ravens know afar 

Dead on the deck this bloody day, Cleared five-and-twenty ships of war : 

Before they 0ut their sun-dried ropes, A proof that in the furious fight 

And in quick flight put all their None can withstand the Norsemen's 
hopes. might." 

Then the army dispersed. Earl Hakon went to 

traditionary tale of a warrior fighting on his knees after his legs 
were cut off, appears to have been a popular idea among the Northmen, 
and is related by their descendants in the ballad of Chevy Chase. L. 



Throndhjem, and was much displeased that Earl Eirik 
had given quarter to Vagn Akason. It was said that at 
this battle Earl Hakon had sacrificed for victory his son, 
young Erling, to the gods; and instantly came the hail- 
storm, and the defeat and slaughter of the Jomsborg 

Earl Eirik went to the Uplands, and eastward by that 
route to his own kingdom, taking Vagn Akason with him. 
Earl Eirik married Vagu to Ingebiorg, a daughter of 
Thorkel Leira, and gave him a good ship of war and all 
belonging to it, and a crew ; and they parted the best of 
friends. Then Vagn went home south to Denmark, and 
became afterwards a man of great consideration, and 
many great people are descended from him. 


Harald Grenske, as before related, was king in Vest- 
fold, and was married to Asta, a daughter of Gudbrand 
Kula. One summer (994) Harald Grenske made an ex- 
pedition to the Baltic to gather property, and he came 
to Svithjod. Olaf the Swede was king there, a son of 
Eirik the Victorious, and Sigrid, a daughter of Skoglar- 
toste. Sigrid was then a widow, and had many and 
great estates in Svithjod. When she heard that her fos- 
ter-brother was come to the country a short distance from 
her, she sent men to him to invite him to a feast. He did 
not neglect the invitation, but came to her with a great 
attendance of his followers, and was received in the most 
friendly way. He and the queen sat in the high-seat, and 
drank together towards the evening, and all his men were 



entertained in the most hospitable manner. At night, 
when the king went to rest, a bed was put up for him with 
a hanging of fine linen around it, and with costly bed- 
clothes; but in the lodging-house there were few men. 
When the king was undressed, and had gone to bed, the 
queen came to him, filled a bowl herself for him to drink, 
and was very gay, and pressed him to drink. The king 
was drunk above measure, and, indeed, so were they both. 
Then he slept, and the queen went away, and laid herself 
down also. Sigrid was a woman of the greatest under- 
standing, and clever in many things. In the morn- 
ing there was also the most excellent entertainment; but 
then it went on as usual when people have drunk too 
much, that next day they take care not to exceed. The 
queen was very gay, and she and the king talked of many 
things with each other; among other things she valued 
her property, and the dominions she had in Svithjod, as 
nothing less than his kingdom and property in Norway. 
With that observation the king was nowise pleased ; and 
he found no pleasure in anything after that, but made 
himself ready for his journey in an ill humor. On the 
other hand, the queen was remarkably gay, and made 
him many presents, and followed him out to the road. 
Now Harald returned about harvest to Norway, and was 
at home all winter; but was very silent and cast down. 
In summer he went once more to the Baltic with his 
ships, and steered to Svithjod. He sent a message to 
Queen Sigrid that he wished to have a meeting with her, 
and she rode down to meet him. They talked together, 
and he soon brought out the proposal that she should 



marry him. She replied, that this was foolish talk for 
him, who was so well married already that he might think 
himself well off. Harald says, "Asta is a good and 
clever woman; but she is not so well born as I am." 
Sigrid replies, "It may be that thou art of higher birth, 
but I think she is now pregnant with both your for- 
tunes." They exchanged but few words more before the 
queen rode away. King Harald was now depressed in 
mind, and prepared himself again to ride up the country 
to meet Queen Sigrid. Many of his people dissuaded 
him; but nevertheless he set off with a great attendance, 
and came to the house in which the queen dwelt. The 
same evening came another king, called Vissavald, from 
Gardarike (Russia), likewise to pay his addresses to 
Queen Sigrid. Lodging was given to both the kings, 
and to all their people, in a great old room of an out- 
building, and all the furniture was of the same character ; 
but there was no want of drink in the evening, and that 
so strong that all were drunk, and the watch, both inside 
and outside, fell fast asleep. Then Queen Sigrid or- 
dered an attack on them in the night, both with fire and 
sword. The house was burnt, with all who were in it 
and those who slipped out were put to the sword. Sigrid 
said that she would make these small kings tired of com- 
ing to court her. She was afterwards called Sigrid the 
Haughty (Storrada). 


This happened the winter after the battle of the Joms- 
borg vikings at Hjorungavag. When Harald went up 



the country after Sigrid, he left Hrane behind with the 
ships to look after the men. Now when Hrane heard 
that Harald was cut off, he returned to Norway the 
shortest way he could, and told the news. He repaired 
first to Asta, and related to her all that had happened on 
the journey, and also on what errand Harald had visited 
Queen Sigrid. When Asta got these tidings she set off 
directly to her father to the Uplands, who received her 
well ; but both were enraged at the design which had been 
laid in Svithjod, and that King Harald had intended 
to set her in a single condition. In summer (995) Asta, 
Gudbrand's daughter, was confined, and had a boy-child, 
who had water poured over him, and was called Olaf. 
Hrane himself poured water over him, and the child was 
brought up at first in the house of Gudbrand and his 
mother Asta. 


Earl Hakon ruled over the whole outer part of Nor- 
way that lies on the sea, and had thus sixteen districts 
under his sway. The arrangement introduced by Har- 
ald Harfager, that there should be an earl in each district, 
was afterward continued for a long time ; and thus Earl 
Hakon had sixteen earls under him. So says the "Vel- 
lekla :" 

'Who before has ever known How Hakon ruled by sword and 

Sixteen earls subdued by one? shield. 

Who has seen all Norway's land When tales at the viking's mast go 

Conquered by one brave hero's hand ? round, 

It will be long in memory held, His praise will every mouth re- 


While Earl Hakon ruled over Norway there were 
good crops in the land, and peace was well preserved in 



the country among the bondes. The earl, for the greater 
part of his lifetime, was therefore much beloved by the 
bondes; but it happened, in the longer course of time, 
that the earl became very intemperate in his intercourse 
with women, and even carried it so far that he made the 
daughters of people of consideration be carried away, 
and brought home to him ; and after keeping them a week 
or two as concubines, he sent them home. He drew upon 
himself the indignation of the relations of these girls; 
and the bondes began to murmur loudly, as the Thrond- 
hjem people have the custom of doing when anything goes 
against their judgment. 


Earl Hakon, in the mean time, hears some whisper 
that to the westward, over the North sea, was a man called 
Ole, who was looked upon as a king. From the conver- 
sation of some people, he fell upon the suspicion that he 
must be of the royal race of Norway. It was, indeed, 
said that this Ole was from Russia ; but the earl had heard 
that Trygve Olafson had had a son called Olaf, who in 
his infancy had gone east to Gardarike, and had been 
brought up by King Valdemar. The earl had carefully 
inquired about this man, and had his suspicion that he 
must be the same person who had now come to these 
western countries. The earl had a very good friend 
called Thorer Klakka, who had been long upon viking 
expeditions, sometimes also upon merchant voyages; 
so that he was well acquainted all around. This Thorer 
Earl Hakon sends over the North sea, and told him to 



make a merchant voyage to Dublin, as many were in the 
habit of doing, and carefully to discover who this Ole 
was. Provided he got any certainty that he was Olaf 
Trygvason, or any other of the Norwegian royal race, 
then Thorer should endeavor to ensnare him by some 
deceit, and bring him into the earl's power. 


On this Thorer sails westward to Ireland, and hears 
that Ole is in Dublin with his wife's father King Olaf 
Kvaran. Thorer, who was a plausible man, immediately 
got acquainted with Ole ; and as they often met, and had 
long conversations together, Ole began to inquire about 
news from Norway, and above all of the Upland kings 
and great people, which of them were in life, and what 
dominations they now had. He asked also about Earl 
Hakon, and if he was much liked in the country. Thorer 
replies, that the earl is such a powerful man that no one 
dares to speak otherwise than he would like; but that 
comes from there being nobody else in the country to 
look to. "Yet, to say the truth, I know it to be the 
mind of many brave men, and of whole communities, 
that they would much rather see a king of Harald Har- 
fager's race come to the kingdom. But we know of no 
one suited for this, especially now that it is proved how 
vain every attack on Earl Hakon must be." As they 
often talked together in the same strain, Olaf disclosed 
to Thorer his name and family, and asked him his opinion, 
and whether he thought the bondes would take him for 
their king if he were to appear in Norway. Thorer *n- 


couraged him very eagerly to the enterprise, and praised 
him and his talents highly. Then Olaf s inclination to 
go to the heritage of his ancestors became strong. Olaf 
sailed accordingly, accompanied by Thorer, with five 
ships ; first to the Hebrides, and from thence to the Ork- 
neys. At that time Earl Sigurd, Hlodver's son, lay in 
Osmundswall, in the island South Ronaldsa, with a ship 
of war, on his way to Caithness. Just at the same time 
Olaf was sailing with his fleet from the westward to the 
islands, and ran into the same harbour, because Pentland 
Firth was not to be passed at that tide. When the king 
was informed that the earl was there, he made him be 
called ; and when the earl came on board to speak with 
the king, after a few words only had passed between them, 
the king says the earl must allow himself to be baptized, 
and all the people of the country also, or he should be 
put to death directly; and he assured the earl he would 
lay waste the islands with fire and sword, if the people 
did not adopt Christianity. In the position the earl found 
himself, he preferred becoming Christian, and he and all 
who were with him were baptized. Afterwards the earl 
took an oath to the king, went into his service, and gave 
him his son, whose name was Hvelp (Whelp), or Hunde 
(Dog), as an hostage; and the king took Hvelp to Nor- 
way with him. Thereafter Olaf went out to sea to the 
eastward, and made the land at Morster Island, where he 
first touched the ground of Norway. He had high mass 
sung in a tent, and afterwards on the spot a church was 
built. Thorer Klakka said now to the king, that the 
best plan for him would be not to make it known who 



he was, or to let any report about him get abroad ; but to 
seek out Earl Hakon as fast as possible, and fall upon 
him by surprise. King Olaf did so, sailing northward 
day and night, when wind permitted, and did not let the 
people of the country know who it was that was sailing 
in such haste. When he came north to Agdanes, he 
heard that the earl was in the fjord, and was in discord 
with the bondes. On hearing this, Thorer. saw that 
things were going in a very different way from what he 
expected ; for after the battle with the Jomsborg vikings 
all men in Norway were the most sincere friends of the 
earl on account of the victory he had gained, and of the 
peace and security he had given to the country ; and now 
it unfortunately turns out that a great chief has come to 
the country at a time when the bondes are in arms against 
the earl. 


Earl Hakon was at a feast in Medalhus in Gaulardal 
and his ships lay out by Viggja. There was a powerful 
bonde, by name Orm Lyrgja, who dwelt in Bunes, who 
had a wife called Gudrun, a daughter of Bergthor of 
Lundar. She was called the Lundasol; for she was the 
most beautiful of women. The earl sent his slaves to 
Orm, with the errand that they should bring Orm's wife, 
Gudrun, to the earl. The thralls tell their errand, and 
Orm bids them first seat themselves to supper; but be- 
fore they had done eating, many people from the neigh- 
bourhood, to whom Orm had sent notice, had gathered 
together : and now Orm declared he would not send Gud- 



run with the messengers. Gudrun told the thralls to tell 
the earl that she would not come to him, unless he sent 
Thora of Rimul after her. Thora was a woman of great 
influence, and one of the earl's best beloved. The thralls 
say that they will come another time, and both the bonde 
and his wife would be made to repent of it ; and they de- 
parted with many threats. Orm, on the other hand, sent 
out a message-token to all the neighbouring country, and 
with it the message to attack Earl Hakon with weapons 
and kill him. He sent also a message to Haldor in 
Skerdingsstedja, who also sent out his message-token. 
A short time before, the earl had taken away the 
wife of a man called Brynjolf, and there had 
very nearly been an insurrection about that business. 
Having now again got this message-token, the people 
made a general revolt, and set out all to Medalhus. When 
the earl heard of this, he left the house with his follow- 
ers, and concealed himself in a deep glen, now called 
Jarlsdal (Earl's Dale). Later in the day, the earl got 
news of the bondes' army. They had beset all the roads ; 
but believed the earl had escaped to 1 his ships, which his 
son Erlend, a remarkably handsome and hopeful young 
man, had the command of. When night came the earl 
dispersed his people, and ordered them to go through the 
forest roads into Orkadal ; "for nobody will molest you," 
said he, "when I am not with you. Send a message to 
Erlend to sail out of the fjord, and meet me in More. In 
the mean time I will conceal myself from the bondes." 
Then the earl went his way with one thrall or slave, 
called Kark, attending him. There was ice upon the 



Gaul (the river of Gaulardal), and the earl drove his horse 
upon it, and left his coat lying upon the ice. They then 
went to a hole, since called Jarlshella (the Earl's Hole), 
where they slept. When Kark awoke he told his dream, 
that a black threatening man had come into the hole, 
and was angry that people should have entered it; and 
that the man had said, "Ulle is dead." The earl said 
that his son Erlend must be killed. Kark slept again, 
and was again disturbed in his sleep; and when he awoke 
he told his dream, that the same man had again ap- 
peared to him, and bade him tell the earl that all the 
sounds were closed. From this dream the earl began to 
suspect that it betokened a short life to him. They stood 
up, and went to the house of Rimul. The earl now sends 
Kark to Thora, and begs of her to come secretly to him. 
She did so and received the earl kindly and he begged her 
to conceal him for a few nights until the army of the 
bondes had dispersed. "Here about my house," said 
she, "you will be hunted after, both inside and outside; 
for many know that I would willingly help you if I can. 
There is but one place about the house where they could 
never expect to find such a man as you, and that is the 
swine-stye." When they came there the earl said, "Well, 
let it be made ready for us ; as to save our life is the first 
and foremost concern." The slave dug a great hole 
in it, bore away the earth that he dug out, and laid wood 
over it. Thora brought the tidings to the earl that Olaf 
Trygvason had come from sea into the fjord, and had 
killed his son Erlend. Then the earl and Kark both 
went into the hole. Thora covered it with wood, and 



threw earth and dung over it, and drove the swine upon 
the top of it. The swine-stye was under a great stone. 


Olaf Trygvason came from sea into the fjord with 
five long-ships, and Erlend, Earl Hakon's son, rowed to- 
wards him with three ships. When the vessels came 
near to each other, Erlend suspected they might be ene- 
mies, and turned towards the land. When Olaf and his 
followers saw long-ships coming in haste out of the fjord, 
and rowing towards them, they thought Earl Hakon 
must be here; and they put out all oars to follow them. 
As soon as Erlend and his ships got near the land they 
rowed aground instantly, jumped overboard, and took to 
the land; but at the same instant Olaf's ship came up 
with them. Olaf saw a remarkably handsome man 
swimming in the water, and laid hold of a tiller and 
threw it at him. The tiller struck Erlend, the son of 
Hakon the earl, on the head, and clove it to the brain; 
and there left Erlend his life. Olaf and his people killed 
many ; but some escaped, and some were made prisoners, 
and got life and freedom that they might go and tell what 
had happened. They learned then that the bondes had 
driven away Earl Hakon, and that he had fled, and his 
troops were all dispersed. 


The bondes then met Olaf, to the joy of both, and they 
made an agreement together. The bondes took Olaf to 
be their king, and resolved, one and all, to seek out Earl 
Hakon. They went up Gaulardal ; for it seemed to them 



likely that if the earl was concealed in any house it must 
be at Rimul, for Thora was his dearest friend in that 
valley. They come up, therefore, and search everywhere, 
outside and inside the house, but could not find him. 
Then Olaf held a House Thing (husting), or council out 
in the yard, and stood upon a great stone which lay be- 
side the swine-stye, and made a speech to the people, in 
which he promised to enrich the man with rewards and 
honours who should kill the earl. This speech was heard 
by the earl and the thrall Kark. They had a light in 
their room. 

"Why art thou so pale," says the earl, "and now again 
black as earth? Thou hast not the intention to betray 

"By no means,' 1 replies Kark. 

"We were born on the same night," says the earl, 
"and the time will be short between our deaths." 

King Olaf went away in the evening. When night 
came the earl kept himself awake; but Kark slept, and was 
disturbed in his sleep. The earl woke him, and asked him 
"what he was dreaming of ?" 

He answered, "I was at Hlader and Olaf Trygvason 
was laying a gold ring about my neck." 

The earl says, "It will be a red ring Olaf will lay about 
thy neck if he catches thee. Take care of that ! From 
me thou shalt enjoy all that is good, therefore betray me 

They then kept themselves awake both ; the one, as it 
were, watching upon the other. But towards day the earl 
suddenly dropped asleep ; but his sleep was so unquiet that 



he drew his heels under him, and raised his neck, as if go- 
ing to rise, and screamed dreadfully high. On this 
Kark, dreadfully alarmed, drew a large knife out of his 
belt, stuck it in the earl's throat, and cut it across, and 
killed Earl Hakon. Then Kark cut off the earl's head, 
and ran away. Late in the day he came to Hlader, where 
he delivered the earl's head to King Olaf, and told all 
these circumstances of his own and Earl Hakon's doings. 
Olaf had him taken out and beheaded. 


King Olaf, and a vast number of bondes with him, then 
went out to Nidarholm, and had with him the heads of 
Earl Hakon and Kark. This holm was used then for 
a place of execution of thieves and ill-doers, and there 
stood a gallows on it. He had the heads of the earl and 
of Kark hung upon it, and the whole army of the bondes 
cast stones at them, screaming and shouting that the one 
worthless fellow had followed the other. They then sent 
up to Gaulardal for the earl's dead body. So great was 
the enmity of the Throndhjem people against Earl 
Hakon, that no man could venture to call him by any 
other name than Hakon the Bad; and he was so called 
long after those days. Yet, sooth to say of Earl Hakon, 
he was in many respects fitted to be a chief : first, because 
he was descended from a high race ; then because he had 
understanding and knowledge to direct a government; 
also manly courage in battle to gain victories, and good 
luck in killing his enemies. So says Thorleif Raudfeld- 



"In Norway's land was never known Were sent, by Hakon's right hand 
A braver earl than the brave Hakon. slain ! 

At sea, beneath the clear moon's light, So well the raven-flocks were fed 

No braver man e'er sought to fight. So well the wolves were filled with 
Nine kings to Odin's wide domain dead !" 

Earl Hakon was very generous; but the greatest mis- 
fortunes attended even such a chief at the end of his days : 
and the great cause of this was that the time was come 
when heathen sacrifices and idolatrous worship were 
doomed to fall, and the holy faith and good customs to 
come in their place. 


Olaf Trygvason was chosen at Throndhjem by the 
General Thing to be the king over the whole country, 
as Harald Harfager had been. The whole public and 
the people throughout all the land would listen to nothing 
else than that Olaf Trygvason should be king. Then 
Olaf went round the whole country, and brought it under 
his rule, and all the people of Norway gave in their sub- 
mission ; and also the chiefs in the Uplands and in Viken, 
who before had held their lands as fiefs from the Danish 
king, now became King Olaf's men, and held their lands 
from him. He went thus through the whole country 
during the first winter (996) and the following summer. 
Earl Eirik, the son of Earl Hakon, his brother Svein, 
and their friends and relations, fled out of the country, 
and went east to Sweden to King Olaf the Swede, who 
gave them a good reception. So says Thord Kolbein- 

'.'9* tho - whom bad men drove away, When the host came from out the 
After the bondes, by foul play, West, 

Took Hakon's life ! Fate will pursue Like some tall stately war-ship's 
These bloody wolves, and make them mast, 

rue - I saw the son of Trygve stand, 

Surveying proud his native land." 


And again, 

"Eirik has more upon his mind, Stubborn and stiff are Throndhlem 

Against the new Norse king de- men, 

signed, But Throndhjem's earl may come 

Than by his words he seems to again ; 

show In Swedish land he knows no rest 

And truly it may well be so. Fierce wrath is gathering in his 



Lodin was the name of a man from Viken who was rich 
and of good family. He went often on merchant voy- 
ages, and sometimes on viking cruises. It happened one 
summer that he went on a merchant voyage with much 
merchandise in a ship of his own. He directed his course 
first to Eistland, and was there at a market in summer. 
To the place at which the market was held many mer- 
chant goods were brought, and also many thralls or slaves 
for sale. There Lodin saw a woman who was to be sold 
as a slave; and on looking at her he knew her to be As- 
trid, Eirik's daughter, who had been married to King 
Trygve. But now she was altogether unlike what she 
had been when he last saw her; for now she was pale, 
meagre in countenance, and ill clad. He went up to her, 
and asked her how matters stood with her. She replied, 
"It is heavy to be told ; for I have been sold as a slave, 
and now again I am brought here for sale." After 
speaking together a little Astrid knew him, and begged 
him to buy her, and bring her home to her friends. "On 
this condition," said he, "I will bring thee home to Nor- 
way, that thou wilt marry me." Now as Astrid stood 
in great need, and moreover knew that Lodin was a man 
of high birth, rich, and brave, she promised to do so for 

13 183 


her ransom. Lodin accordingly bought Astrid, took 
her home to Norway with him, and married her with her 
friends' consent. Their children w r ere Thorkel Nefia, 
Ingerid, and Ingegerd. Ingebjorg and Astrid were 
daughters of Astrid by King Trygve. Eirik Bjodas- 
kalle's sons were Sigurd, Karlshofud, Jostein, and Thor- 
kel Dydril, who were all rich and brave people who had 
estates east in the country. In Viken in the east dwelt 
two brothers, rich and of good descent ; one called Thor- 
geir, and the other Hyrning ; and they married Lodin and 
Astrid's daughters, Ingerid and Ingegerd. 


When Harald Gormson, king of Denmark, had adopted 
Christianity, he sent a message over all his kingdom that 
all people should be baptized, and converted to the true 
faith. He himself followed his message, and used power 
and violence where nothing else would do. He sent two 
earls, Urguthrjot and Brimilskjar, with many people to 
Norway, to proclaim Christianity there. In Viken, which 
stood directly under the king's power, this succeeded, 
and many were baptized of the country folk. But when 
Svein Forked-beard, immediately after his father King 
Harald's death, went out on war expeditions in Saxland, 
Frisland, and at last in England, the Northmen who had 
taken up Christianity returned back to heathen sacrifices, 
just as before ; and the people in the north of the country 
did the same. But now that Olaf Trygvason was king 
of Norway, he remained long during the summer (996) 
in Viken, where many of his relatives and some of his 



brothers-in-law were settled, and also many who had 
been great friends of his father; so that he was received 
with the greatest affection. Olaf called together his 
mother's brothers, his stepfather Lodin, and his broth- 
ers-in-law Thorgeir and Hyrning, to speak with them, 
and to disclose with the greatest care the business which 
he desired they themselves should approve of, and sup- 
port with all their power ; namely, the proclaiming Chris- 
tianity over all his kingdom. He would, he declared, 
either bring it to this, that all Norway should be Chris- 
tian, or die. "I shall make you all," said he, "great and 
mighty men in promoting this work; for I trust to you 
most, as blood relations or brothers-in-law." All agreed 
to do what he asked, and to follow him in what he de- 
sired. King Olaf immediately made it known to the 
public that he recommended Christianity to all the people 
in his kingdom, which message was well received and ap- 
proved of by those who had before given him their 
promise; and these being the most powerful among the 
people assembled, the others followed their example, and 
all the inhabitants of the east part of Viken allowed them- 
selves to be baptized. The king then went to the north 
part of Viken and invited every man to accept Christi- 
anity; and those who opposed him he punished severely, 
killing some, mutilating others, and driving some into 
banishment. At length he brought it so far, that all the 
kingdom which his father King Trygve had ruled over, 
and also that of his relation Harald Grenske, accepted of 
Christianity; and during that summer (996) and the fol- 
lowing winter (997) all Viken was made Christian. 



Early in spring (997) King Olaf set out from Viken 
with a great force northwards to Agder, and proclaimed 
that every man should be baptized. And thus the people 
received Christianity, for nobody dared oppose the king's 
will, wheresoever he came. In Hordaland, however, were 
many bold and great men of Hordakare's race. He, 
namely, had left four sons, the first Thorleif Spake; 
the second, Ogmund, father of Thorolf Skialg, who was 
father of Erling of Sole; the third was Thord, father of 
the Herse Klyp who killed King Sigurd Slefa, Gunhild's 
son; and lastly, Olmod, father of Askel, whose son was 
Aslak Fitjaskalle; and that family branch was the great- 
est and most considered in Hordaland. Now when this 
family heard the bad tidings, that the king was coming 
along the country from the eastward with a great force, 
and was breaking the ancient law of the people, and im- 
posing punishment and hard conditions on all who op- 
posed him, the relatives appointed a meeting to take coun- 
sel with each other, for they knew the king would come 
clown upon them at once ; and they all resolved to appear 
in force at the Gula-Thing, there to hold a conference 
with King Olaf Trygvason. 


When King Olaf came to Rogaland, he immediately 
summoned the people to a Thing; and when the bondes 
received the message-token for a Thing, they assembled 
in great numbers well armed. After they had come to- 
gether, they resolved to choose three men, the best speak- 



ers of the whole, who should answer King Olaf, and argue 
with the king ; and especially should decline to accept of 
anything against the old law, even if the king should re- 
quire it of them. Now when the bondes came to the 
Thing, and the Thing was formed, King Olaf arose, and 
at first spoke good-humoredly to the people; but they 
observed he wanted them to accept Christianity, with all 
his fine words : and in the conclusion he let them know that 
those who should speak against him, and not submit to 
his proposal, must expect his displeasure and punish- 
ment, and all the ill that it was in his power to inflict. 
When he had ended his speech, one of the bondes stood 
up, who was considered the most eloquent, and who had 
been chosen as the first who should reply to King Olaf. 
But when he would begin to speak such a cough seized 
him, and such a difficulty of breathing, that he could not 
bring out a word, and had to sit down again. Then 
another bonde stood up, resolved not to let an answer be 
wanting, although it had gone so ill with the former: 
but he stammered so that he could not get a word uttered, 
and all present set up a laughter, amid which the bonde 
sat down again. And now the third stood up to make a 
speech against King Olaf's; but when he began he be- 
came so hoarse and husky in his throat, that nobdy could 
hear a word he said, and he also had to sit down. There 
was none of the bondes now to speak against the king, 
and as nobody answered him there was no opposition; 
and it came to this, that all agreed to what the king 
had proposed. All the people of the Thing accordingly 
were baptized before the Thing was dissolved. 




King Olaf went with his men-at-rams to the Gula- 
Thing ; for the bondes had sent him word that they would 
reply there to his speech. When both parties had come 
to the Thing, the king desired first to have a conference 
with the chief people of the country ; and when the meet- 
ing was numerous the king set forth his errand, that 
he desired them, according to his proposal, to allow them- 
selves to be baptized. Then said Olmod the Old, "We 
relations have considered together this matter, and have 
come to one resolution. If thou thinkest, king, to force 
us who are related together to such things as to break 
our old law, or to bring us under thyself by any sort of 
violence, then will we stand against thee with all our 
might: and be the victory to him to whom fate ordains 
it. But if thou, king, wilt advance our relations' for- 
tunes, then thou shalt have leave to do as thou desirest, 
and we will all serve thee with zeal in thy purpose." 

The king replies, "What do you propose for obtaining 
this agreement?" 

Then answers Olmod, "The first is, that thou wilt give 
thy sister Astrid in marriage to Erling Skjalgson, our 
relation, whom we look upon as the most hopeful young 
man in all Norway." 

King Olaf replied, that this marriage appeared to him 
also very suitable; "as Erling is a man of good birth, and 
a good-looking man in appearance: but Astrid herself 
must answer to this proposal." 

Thereupon the king spoke to his sister. She said, 
"It is but of little use that I am a king's sister, and a 

1 88 


king's daughter, if I must marry a man who has no high 
dignity or office. I will rather wait a few years for a 
better match." Thus ended this conference. 


.King Olaf took a falcon that belonged to Astrid, 
plucked off all its feathers, and then sent it to her. Then 
said Astrid, "Angry is my brother." And she stood 
up, and went to the king, who received her kindly; and 
she said that she left it to the king to determine her mar- 
riage. "I think," said the king, "that I must have power 
enough in this land to raise any man I please to high dig- 
nity." Then the king ordered Olmod and Erling to be 
called to a conference, and all their relations; and the 
marriage was determined upon, and Astrid betrothed to 
Erling. Thereafter the king held the Thing, and rec- 
ommended Christianity to the bondes; and as Olmod, 
and Erling, and all their relations, took upon, them- 
selves the most active part in forwarding the king's de- 
sire, nobody dared to speak against it ; and all the people 
were baptized, and adopted Christianity. 

Erling Skjalgson held his wedding in summer, and a 
great many people were assembled at it. King Olaf was 
also there, and offered Erling an earldom. Erling re- 
plied thus : "All my relations have been herses only, and 
I will take no higher title than they have; but this I will 
accept from thee, king, that thou makest me the greatest 
of that title in the country." The king consented; and 
at his departure the king invested his brother-in-law Er- 

!8 9 


ling with all the land north of the Sognefiord, and east 
to the Lidandisnes, on the same terms as Harald Harfa- 
ger had given land to his sons, as before related. 


The same harvest King Olaf summoned the bondes to 
a Thing of the four districts at Dragseid, in Stad; and 
there the people from Sogn, the Fjord-districts, South 
More, and Raumsdal, were summoned to meet. King 
Olaf came there with a great many people who had fol- 
lowed him from the eastward, and also with those who 
had joined him from Rogaland and Hordaland. When 
the king came to the Thing, he proposed to them there, 
as elsewhere, Christianity; and as the king had such a 
powerful host with him, they were frightened. The 
king offered them two conditions, either to accept Chris- 
tianity, or to fight. But the bondes saw they were in no 
condition to fight the king, and resolved, therefore, that 
all the people should agree to be baptized. The king pro- 
ceeded afterwards to North More, and baptized all that 
district. He then sailed to Hlader, in Throndhjem ; had 
the temple there razed to the ground; took all the orna- 
ments and all property out of the temple, and from the 
gods in it; and among other things the great gold ring 
which Earl Hakon had ordered to be made, and which 
hung in the door of the temple; and then had the temple 
burnt. But when the bondes heard of this, they sent out 
a war-arrow as a token through the whole district, order- 
ing out a warlike force, and intended to meet the king 
with it. In the meantime King Olaf sailed with a war- 



force out of the fjord along the coast northward, intend- 
ing to proceed to Halogaland, and baptize there. When 
he came north to Bjarnaurar, he heard from Halogaland 
that a force was assembled there to defend the country 
against the king. The chiefs of this force were Harek 
of Thjotta, Thorer Hjort from Vagar, and Eyvind 
Kinrifa. Now when King Olaf heard this, he turned 
about and sailed southwards along the land; and when 
he got south of Stad proceeded at his leisure, and came 
early in winter (998) all the way east to Viken. 


Queen Sigrid in Svithjod, who had for surname the 
Haughty, sat in her mansion, and during the same winter 
messengers went between King Olaf and Sigrid to pro- 
pose his courtship to her, and she had no objection; and 
the matter was fully and fast resolved upon. Thereupon 
King Olaf sent to Queen Sigrid the great gold ring he 
had taken from the temple door of Hlader, which was 
considered a distinguished ornament. The meeting for 
concluding the business was appointed to be in spring on 
the frontier, at the Gaut river. Now the ring which 
King Olaf had sent Queen Sigrid was highly prized by 
all men; yet the queen's gold-smiths, two brothers, who 
took the ring in their hands, and weighed it, spoke quietly 
to each other about it, and in a manner that made the 
queen call them to her, and ask "what they smiled at?" 
But they would not say a word, and she commanded them 
to say what it was they had discovered. Then they said 
the ring is false. Upon this she ordered the ring to be 



broken into pieces, and it was found to be copper in- 
side. Then the queen was enraged, and said that Olaf 
would deceive her in more ways than this one. In the 
same year (998) King Olaf went into Ringerike, and 
there the people also were baptized. 


Asta, the daughter of Gudbrand, soon after the fall 
of Harald Grenske married again a man who was called 
Sigurd Syr, who was a king in Ringerike. Sigurd was 
a son of Halfdan, and grandson of Sigurd Hrise, who 
was a son of Harald Harfager. Olaf, the son of Asta 
and Harald Grenske, lived with Asta, and was brought 
up from childhood in the house of his stepfather, Sigurd 
Syr. Now when King Olaf Trygvason came to Ringe- 
rike to spread Christianity, Sigurd Syr and his wife al- 
lowed themselves to be baptized, along with Olaf her son ; 
and Olaf Trygvason was godfather to Olaf, the stepson 
of Harald Grenske. Olaf was then three 1 years old. 
Olaf returned from thence to Viken, where he remained 
all winter. He had now been three years king in Nor- 
way (998). 


Early in spring (998) King Olaf went eastwards to 
Konungahella to the meeting with Queen Sigrid; and 
when they met the business was considered about which 
the winter before they had held communication, namely, 
their marriage; and the business seemed likely to be con- 
cluded. But when Olaf insisted that Sigrid should let 



herself be baptized, she answered thus : "I must not part 
from the faith which I have held, and my forefathers be- 
fore me; and, on the other hand, I shall make no objec- 
tion to your believing in the god that pleases you best." 
Then King Olaf was enraged, and answered in a passion, 
'Why should I care to have thee, an old faded woman, 
and a heathen jade?" and therewith struck her in the 
face with his glove which he held in his hands, rose up, 
and they parted. Sigrid said, "This may some day be 
thy death." The king set off to Viken, the queen to 


Then the king proceeded to Tunsberg, and held a 
Thing, at which he declared in a speech that all the 
men of whom it should be known to a certainty that they 
dealt with evil spirits, or in witchcraft, or were sorcerers, 
should be banished forth of the land. Thereafter the 
king had all the neighborhood ransacked after such peo- 
ple, and called them all before him; and when they were 
brought to the Thing there was a man among them called 
Eyvind Kelda, a grandson of Ragnvald Rettilbeine, Har- 
ald Harfager's son. Eyvind was a sorcerer, and partic- 
ularly knowing in witchcraft. The king let all these men 
be seated in one room, which was well adorned, and made 
a great feast for them,, and gave them strong drink in 
plenty. Now when they were all very drunk, he ordered 
the house be set on fire, and it and all the people within 
it were consumed, all but Eyvind Kelda, who contrived 
to escape by the smoke-hole in the roof. And when he 



had got a long way off, he met some people on the road 
going to the king, and he told them to tell the king 
that Eyvind Kelda had slipped away from the fire, and 
would never come again in King Olaf 's power, but would 
carry on his arts of witchcraft as much as ever. When 
the people came to the king with such a message from 
Eyvind, the king was ill pleased that Eyvind had escaped 


When spring (998) came King Olaf went out to Viken, 
and was on visits to his great farms. He sent notice 
over all Viken that he would call out an army in summer, 
and proceed to the north parts of the country. Then he 
went north to Agder; and when Easter was approach- 
ing he took the road to Rogaland with 300 (=360) men, 
and came on Easter evening north to Ogvaldsnes, in 
Kormt Island, where an Easter feast was prepared for 
him. That same night came Eyvind Kelda to the island 
with a well-manned long-ship, of which the whole crew 
consisted of sorcerers and other dealers with evil spirits. 
Eyvind went from his ship to the land with his followers, 
and there they played many of their pranks of witchcraft. 
Eyvind clothed them with caps of darkness, and so thick 
a mist that the king and his men could see nothing of 
them ; but when they came near to the house at Ogvalds- 
nes, it became clear day. Then it went differently from 
what Eyvind had intended ; for now there came just such 
a darkness over him and his comrades in witchcraft as 
they had made before, so that they could see no more 



from their eyes than from the back of their heads, but 
went round and round in a circle upon the island. When 
the king's watchman saw them going* about, without 
knowing what people these were, they told the king. 
Thereupon he rose up with his people, put on his clothes, 
and when he saw Eyvind with his men wandering about 
he ordered his men to arm, and examine what folk these 
were. The king's men discovered it was Eyvind, took 
him and all his company prisoners, and brought them to 
the king. Eyvind now told all he had done on his jour- 
ney. Then the king ordered them all to be taken out to 
a skerry which was under water in flood tide, and there 
to be left bound. Eyvind and all with him left their lives 
on this rock, and the skerry is still called Skrattasker. 


It is related that once on a time King Olaf was at a 
feast at this Ogvaldsnes, and one eventide there came to 
him an old man very gifted in words, and with a broad- 
brimmed hat upon his head. He was one-eyed, and had 
something to tell of every land. He entered into con- 
versation with the king; and as the king found much 
pleasure in the guest's speech, he asked him concerning 
many things, to which the guest gave good answers : and 
the king sat up late in the evening. Among other things, 
the king asked him if he knew who the Ogvald had been 
who had given his name both to the ness and to the house. 
The guest replied, that this Ogvald was a king, and a 
very valiant man, and that he made great sacrifices to a 
cow which he had with him wherever he went, and con- 



sidered it good for his health to drink her milk. This 
same King Ogvald had a battle with a king called Varin, 
in which battle Ogvald fell. He was buried under a 
mound close to the house; "and there stands his stone 
over him, and close to it his cow also is laid." Such and 
many other things, and ancient events, the king inquired 
after. Now, when the king had sat late into the night, 
the bishop reminded him that it was time to go to bed, 
and the king did so. But after the king was undressed, 
and had laid himself in bed, the guest sat upon the foot- 
stool before the bed, and still spoke long with the king; 
for after one tale was ended, he still wanted a new one. 
Then the bishop observed to the king, it was time to go 
to sleep, and the king did so; and the guest went out. 
Soon after the king awoke, asked for the guest, and 
ordered him to be called; but the guest was not to be 
found. The morning after, the king ordered his cook 
and cellar-master to be called, and asked if any strange 
person had been with them. They said, that as they 
were making ready the meat a man came to them, and 
observed that they were cooking very poor meat for the 
king's table; whereupon he gave them two thick and fat 
pieces of beef, which they boiled with the rest of the meat. 
Then the king ordered that all the meat should be thrown 
away, and said this man can be no other than the Odin 
whom the heathens have so long worshipped ; and added, 
"but Odin shall not deceive us." 

King Olaf collected a great army in the east of the 



country towards summer, and sailed with it north to 
Nidaros in the Throndhjem country. From thence he 
sent a message-token over all the fjord, calling the people 
of eight different districts to a Thing; but the bondes 
changed the Thing-token into a war-token; and called 
together all men, free and unfree, in all the Throndhjem 
land. Now when the king met the Thing, the whole 
people came fully armed. After the Thing was seated, 
the king spoke, and invited them to adopt Christianity; 
but he had only spoken a short time when the bondes 
called out to him to be silent, or they would attack him 
and drive him away. "We did so," said they, "with 
Hakon foster-son of Athelstan, when he brought us the 
same message, and we held him in quite as much respect 
as we hold thee." When King Olaf saw how incensed 
the bondes were, and that they had such a war force that 
he could make no resistance, he turned his speech as if he 
would give way to the bondes, and said, "I wish only to 
be in a good understanding with you as of old; and I 
will come to where ye hold your greatest sacrifice-festival, 
and see your customs, and thereafter we shall consider 
which to hold by." And in this all agreed; and as the 
king spoke mildly and friendly with the bondes, their 
anger was appeased, and their conference with the king 
went off peacefully. At the close of it a midsummer 
sacrifice was fixed to take place in Maeren, and all chiefs 
and great bondes to attend it as usual. The king was 
to be at it. 


There was a great bonde called Skegge, and sometimes 



Jarnskegge, or Iron Beard, who dwelt in Uphaug in 
Yrjar. He spoke first at the Thing to Olaf; and was 
the foremost man of the bondes in speaking against 
Christianity. The Thing was concluded in this way for 
that time, the bondes returned home, and the king went 
to Hlader. 


King Olaf lay with his ships in the river Nid, and had 
thirty vessels, which were manned with many brave 
people; but the king himself was often at Hlader, with his 
court attendants. As the time now was approaching at 
which the sacrifices should be made at Maeren, the king 
prepared a great feast at Hlader, and sent a message 
to the districts of Strind, Gaulardal, and out to Orkadal, 
to invite the chiefs and other great bondes. When the 
feast was ready, and the chiefs assembled, there was a 
handsome entertainment the first evening, at which plenty 
of liquor went round, and the guests were made very 
drunk. The night after they all slept in peace. The fol- 
lowing morning, when the king was dressed, he had the 
early mass sung before him ; and when the mass was over, 
ordered to sound the trumpets for a House Thing : upon 
which all his men left the ships to come up to the Thing. 
When the Thing was seated, the king stood up, and spoke 
thus : " We held a Thing at Frosta, and there I invited 
the bondes to allow themselves to be baptized; but they, 
on the other hand, invited me to offer sacrifice to their 
gods, as King Hakon, Athelstan's foster-son, had done; 
and thereafter it was agreed upon between us that we 
should meet at Mserin, and there make a great sacrifice. 



Now if I, along with you, shall turn again to making 
sacrifice, then will I make the greatest of sacrifices that 
are in use; and I will sacrifice men. But I will not select 
slaves or malefactors for this, but will take the greatest 
men only to be offered to the gods ; and for this I select 
Orm Lygra of Medalhus, Styrkar of Gimsar, Kar of 
Gryting, Asbjorn Thorbergson of Varnes, Orm of Lyxa, 
Haldor of Skerdingsstedja ;" and besides these he named 
five others of the principal men. All these, he said, he 
would offer in sacrifice to the gods for peace and a fruitful 
season ; and ordered them to be laid hold of immediately. 
Now when the bondes saw that they were not strong 
enough to make head against the king, they asked for 
peace, and submitted wholly to the king's pleasure. So 
it was settled that all the bondes who had come there 
should be baptized, and should take an oath to the king 
to hold by the right faith, and to renounce sacrifice to the 
gods. The king then kept all these men as hostages who 
came to his feast, until they sent him their sons, brothers, 
or other near relations. 


King Olaf went in with all his forces into the Thrond- 
hjem country; and when he came to Maeren all among the 
chiefs of the Throndhjem people who were most opposed 
to Christianity were assembled, and had with them all the 
great bondes who had before made sacrifice at that place. 
There was thus a greater multitude of bondes than there 
had been at the Frosta-Thing. Now the king let the 
people be summoned to the Thing, where both parties 

i4 199 


met armed; and when the Thing- was seated the king 
made a speech, in which he told the people to go over to 
Christianity. Jarnskegge replies on the part of the bondes, 
and says that the will of the bondes is now, as formerly, 
that the king should not break their laws. "We want, 
king," said he, "that thou shouldst offer sacrifice, as other 
kings before thee have done." All the bondes applauded 
his speech with a loud shout, and said they would have 
all things according to what Skegge said. Then the king 
said he would go into the temple of their gods with 
them, and see what the practices were when they sacrificed. 
The bondes thought well of this proceeding, and both 
parties went to the temple. 


Now King Olaf entered into the temple with some few 
of his men and a few bondes; and when the king came 
to where their gods were, Thor, as the most considered 
among their gods, sat there adorned with gold and silver. 
The king lifted up his gold-inlaid axe which he carried 
in his hands, and struck Thor so that the image rolled 
down from its seat. Then the king's men turned to and 
threw down all the gods from their seats; and while the 
king was in the temple, Jarnskegge was killed outside of 
the temple doors, and the king's men did it. When the 
king came forth out of the temple he offered the bondes 
two conditions, that all should accept of Christianity 
forthwith, or that they should fight with him. But as 
Skegge was killed, there was no leader in the bondes' 
army to raise the banner against King Olaf; so they took 



the other condition, to surrender to the king's will and 
obey his order. Then King Olaf had all the people 
present baptized, and took hostages from them for their 
remaining true to Christianity ; and he sent his men round 
to every district, and no man in the Throndhjem country 
opposed Christianity, but all people took baptism. 


King Olaf with his people went out to Nidaros, and 
made houses on the flat side of the river Nid, which he 
raised to be a merchant town, and gave people ground 
to build houses upon. The king's house he had built 
just opposite Skipakrok; and he transported thither, in 
harvest, all that was necessary for his winter residence, 
and had many people about him there. 


King Olaf appointed a meeting with the relations of 
Jarnskegge, and offered them the compensation or penalty 
for his bloodshed ; for there were many bold men who had 
an interest in that business. Jarnskegge had a daughter 
called Gudrun; and at last it was agreed upon between 
the parties that the king should take her in marriage. 
When the wedding-day came King Olaf and Gudrun 
went to bed together. As soon as Gudrun, the first night 
they lay together, thought the king was asleep, she drew 
a knife, with which she intended to run him through; 
but the king saw it, took the knife from her, got out of 
bed, and went to his men, and told them what had hap- 
pened. Gudrun also took her clothes, and went away 

20 1 


along with all her men who had followed her thither. 
Gudrun never came into the king's bed again. 


The same autumn (998) King Olaf laid the keel of a 
great long-ship out on the strand at the river Nid. It 
was a snekkja; and he employed many carpenters upon 
her, so that early in winter the vessel was ready. It had 
thirty benches for rowers, was high in stem and stern, 
but was not broad. The king called this ship Tranen 
(the Crane). After Jarnskegge's death his body was car- 
ried to Yrjar, and lies there in the Skegge mound on 


When King Olaf Trygvason had been two years king 
of Norway (997), there was a Saxon priest in his house 
who was called Thangbrand, a passionate, ungovernable 
man, and a great man-slayer ; but he was a good scholar, 
and a clever man. The king would not have him in his 
house upon account of his misdeeds; but gave him the 
errand to go to Iceland, and bring that land to the 
Christian faith. The king gave him a merchant vessel ; 
and, as far as we know of this voyage of his, he landed 
first in Iceland at Austfiord in the southern Alptfiord, 
and passed the winter in the house of Hal of Sida. 
Thangbrand proclaimed Christianity in Iceland, and on 
his persuasion Hal and all his house people, and many 
other chiefs, allowed themselves to be baptized ; but there 
were many more who spoke against it. Thorvald Veile 



and Veterlide the skald composed a satire about Thang- 
brand; but he killed them both outright. Thangbrand 
was two years in Iceland, and was the death of three 
men before he left it. 


There was a man called Sigurd, and another called 
Hauk, both of Halogaland, who often made merchant 
voyages. One summer (998) they had made a voyage 
westward to England ; and when they came back to Nor- 
way they sailed northwards along the coast, and at North 
More they met King Olaf s people. When it was told 
the king that some Halogaland people were come who 
were heathen, he ordered the steersmen to be brought to 
him, and he asked them if they would consent to be 
baptized; to which they replied, no. The king spoke 
with them in many ways, but to no purpose. He then 
threatened them with death and torture; but they would 
not allow themselves to be moved. He then had them 
laid in irons, and kept them in chains in his house for 
some time, and often conversed with them, but in vain. 
At last one night they disappeared, without any man 
being able to conjecture how they got away. But about 
harvest they came north to Harek of Thjotta, who 
received them kindly, and with whom they stopped all 
winter (999), and were hospitably entertained. 


It happened one good-weather day in spring (999) 
that Harek was at home in his house with only few 



people, and time hung heavy on his hands. Sigurd 
asked him if he would row a little for amusement. Harek 
was willing; and they went to the shore, and drew down 
a six-oared skiff; and Sigurd took the mast and rigging 
belonging to the boat out of the boat-house, for they 
often used to sail when they went for amusement on the 
water. Harek went out into the boat to hang the rudder. 
The brothers Sigurd and Hauk, who were very strong 
men, were fully armed, as they were used to go about at 
home among the peasants. Before they went out to the 
boat they threw into her some butter-kits and a bread- 
chest, and carried between them a great keg of ale. When 
they had rowed a short way from the island the brothers 
hoisted the sail, while Harek was seated at the helm ; and 
they sailed away from the island. Then the two brothers 
went aft to where Harek the bonde was sitting; and 
Sigurd says to him, "Now thou must choose one of these 
conditions, first, that we brothers direct this voyage; 
or, if not, that we bind thee fast and take the command ; 
or, third, that we kill thee." Harek saw how matters 
stood with him. As a single man, he was not better 
than one of those brothers, even if he had been as well 
armed ; so it appeared to him wisest to let them determine 
the course to steer, and bound himslf by oath to abide by 
this condition. On this Sigurd took the helm, and 
steered south along the land, the brothers taking particular 
care that they did not encounter people. The wind was 
very favourable ; and they held on sailing along until they 
came south to Throndhjem and to Nidaros, where they 
found the king. Then the king called Harek to him, and 



in a conference desired him to be baptized. Harek made 
objections; and although the king and Harek talked 
over it many times, sometimes in the presence of other 
people, and sometimes alone, they could not agree upon it. 
At last the king says to Harek, "Now thou mayst return 
home, and I will do thee no injury; partly because we are 
related together, and partly that thou mayst not have it 
to say that I caught thee by a trick : but know for certain 
that I intend to come north next summer to visit you 
Halogalanders, and ye shall then see if I am not able to 
punish those who reject Christianity." Harek was well 
pleased to get away as fast as he could. King Olaf gave 
Harek a good boat of ten or twelve pair of oars, and let it 
be fitted out with the best of everything needful; and 
besides he gave Harek thirty men, all lads of mettle, and 
well appointed. 


Harek of Thjotta went away from the town as fast as 
he could; but Hauk and Sigurd remained in the king's 
house, and both took baptism. Harek pursued his voyage 
until he came to Thjotta. He sent immediately a message 
to his friend Eyvind Kinrifa, with the word that he had 
been with King Olaf ; but would not let himself be cowed 
down to accept Christianity. The message at the same 
time informed him that King Olaf intended coming to 
the north in summer against them, and they must be at 
their posts to defend themselves; it also begged Eyvind 
to come and visit him, the sooner the better. When this 
message was delivered to Eyvind, he saw how very 



necessary it was to devise some counsel to avoid falling 
into the king's hands. He set out, therefore, in a light 
vessel with a few hands as fast as he could. When he 
came to Thjotta he was received by Harek in the most 
friendly way, and they immediately entered into conversa- 
tion with each other behind the house. When they had 
spoken together but a short time, King Olaf's men, who 
had secretly followed Harek to the north, came up, and 
took Eyvind prisoner, and carried him away to their 
ship. They did not halt on their voyage until they came 
to Throndhjem, and presented themselves to King Olaf 
at Nidaros. Then Eyvind was brought up to a confer- 
ence with the king, who asked him to allow himself to be 
baptized, like other people ; but Eyvind decidedly answered 
he would not. The king still, with persuasive words, 
urged him to accept Christianity, and both he and the 
bishop used many suitable arguments; but Eyvind would 
not allow himself to be moved. The king offered him 
gifts and great fiefs, but Eyvind refused all. Then the 
king threatened him with tortures and death, but Eyvind 
was steadfast. Then the king ordered a pan of glowing 
coals to be placed upon Eyvind's belly, which burst 
asunder. Eyvind cried, "Take away the pan, and I will 
say something before I die," which also was done. The 
king said, "Wilt thou now, Eyvind, believe in Christ?" 
"No," said Eyvind, "I can take no baptism; for I am 
an evil spirit put into a man's body by the sorcery of Fins 
because in no other way could my father and mother have 
a child." With that died Eyvind, who had been one of 
the greatest sorcerers. 



The spring after (999) King Olaf fitted out and 
manned his ships, and commanded himself his ship the 
Crane. He had many and smart people with him; and 
when he was ready, he sailed northwards with his fleet 
past Bryda, and to Halogaland. Wheresoever he came to 
the land, or to the islands, he held a Thing, and told the 
people to accept the right faith, and to be baptized. No 
man dared to say anything against it, and the whole 
country he passed through was made Christian. King 
Olaf was a guest in the house of Harek of Thjotta, who 
was baptized with all his people. At parting the king 
gave Harek good presents ; and he entered into the king's 
service, and got fiefs, and the privileges of lendsman from 
the king. 


There was a bonde, by name Raud the Strong, who 
dwelt in Godey in Salten fjord. Raud was a very rich 
man, who had many house servants; and likewise was a 
powerful man, who had many Fins in his service when 
he wanted them. Raud was a great idolater, and very 
skillful in witchcraft, and was a great friend of Thorer 
Hjort, before spoken of. Both were great chiefs. Now 
when they heard that King Olaf was coming with a great 
force from the south to Halogaland, they gathered 
together an army, ordered out ships, and they too had a 
great force on foot. Raud had a large ship with a gilded 
head formed like a dragon, which ship had thirty rowing 
benches, and even for that kind of ship was very large. 



Thorer Hjort had also a large ship. These men sailed 
southwards with their ships against King Olaf, and as 
soon as they met gave battle. A great battle there was, 
and a great fall of men ; but principally on the side of the 
Halogalanders, whose ships were cleared of men, so that 
a great terror came upon them. Raud rode with his 
dragon out to sea, and set sail. Raud had always a fair 
wind wheresoever he wished to sail, which came from his 
arts of witchcraft; and, to make a short story, he came 
home to Godey. Thorer Hjort fled from the ships 
up to the land; but King Olaf landed people, followed 
those who fled, and killed them. Usually the king was 
the foremost in such skirmishes, and was so now. When 
the king saw where Thorer Hjort, who was quicker on 
foot than any man, was running to, he ran after him 
with his dog Vige. The king said, "Vige! Vige! catch 
the deer." Vige ran straight in upon him; on which 
Thorer halted, and the king threw a spear at him. Thorer 
struck with his sword at the dog, and gave him a great 
wound; but at the same moment the king's spear flew 
under Thorer's arm, and went through and through him, 
and came out at his other side. There Thorer left his 
life; but Vige was carried wounded to the ships. 


King Olaf gave life and freedom to all the men who 
asked it and agreed to become Christian. King Olaf 
sailed with his fleet northwards along the coast, and 
baptized all the people among whom he came; and when 
he came north to Salten fjord, he intended to sail into it 



to look for Raud, but a dreadful tempest and storm was 
raging in the fjord. They lay there a whole week, in 
which the same weather was raging within the fjord, 
while without there was a fine brisk wind only, fair for 
proceeding north along the land. Then the king con- 
tinued his voyage north to Omd, where all the people 
submitted to Christianity. Then the king turned about 
and sailed to the south again; but when he came to the 
north side of Salten fjord, the same tempest was blowing, 
and the sea ran high out from the fjord, and the same 
kind of storm prevailed for several days while the king 
was lying there. Then the king applied to Bishop Sigurd, 
and asked him if he knew any counsel about it; and the 
bishop said he would try if God would give him power to 
conquer these arts of the Devil. 

Bishop Sigurd took all his mass robes and went for- 
ward to the bow of the king's ship; ordered tapers to be 
lighted, and incense to be brought out. Then he set the 
crucifix upon the stem of the vessel, read the Evangelist 
and many prayers, besprinkled the whole ship with holy 
water, and then ordered the ship-tent to be stowed away, 
and to row into the fjord. The king ordered all the other 
ships to follow him. Now when all was ready on board 
the Crane to row, she went into 1 the fjord without the 
rowers finding any wind; and the sea was curled about 
their keel track like as in a calm, so quiet and still was 
the water ; yet on each side of them the waves were lash- 
ing up so high that they hid the sight o<f the mountains. 
And so the one ship followed the other in the smooth sea 



track; and they proceeded this way the whole day and 
night, until they reached Godey. Now when they came 
to Raud's house his great ship, the dragon, was afloat 
close to the land. King Olaf went up to the house imme- 
diately with his people; made an attack on the loft in 
which Raud was sleeping, and broke it open. The men 
rushed in : Raud was taken and bound, and of the people 
with him some were killed and some made prisoners. 
Then the king's men went to a lodging in which Raud's 
house servants slept, and killed some, bound others, and 
beat others. Then the king ordered Raud to be brought 
before him, and offered him baptism. "And," says the 
king, "I will not take thy property from thee, but rather 
be thy friend, if thou wilt make thyself worthy to be so." 
Raud exclaimed with all his might against the proposal, 
saying he would never believe in Christ, and making his 
scoff of God. Then the king was wroth, and said Raud 
should die the worst of deaths. And the king ordered 
him to be bound to a beam of wood, with his face upper- 
most, and a round pin of wood to be set between his teeth 
to force his mouth open. Then the king ordered an 
adder to be stuck into the mouth of him ; but the serpent 
would not go into his mouth, but shrunk back when Raud 
breathed against it. Now the king ordered a hollow 
branch of an angelica root to be stuck into Raud's mouth ; 
others say the king put his horn into his mouth, and 
forced the serpent to go in by holding a red-hot iron 
before the opening. So the serpent crept into the mouth 
of Raud and down his throat, and gnawed its way out of 
his side; and thus Raud perished. King Olaf took here 



much gold and silver, and other property of weapons, and 
many sorts of precious effects ; and all the men who were 
with Raud he either had baptized, or if they refused had 
them killed or tortured. Then the king took the dragon- 
ship which Raud had owned, and steered it himself ; for it 
was a much larger and handsomer vessel than the Crane. 
In front it had a dragon's head, and aft a crook, which 
turned up, and ended with the figure of the dragon's tail. 
The carved work on each side of the stem and stern was 
gilded. This ship the king called the Serpent. When the 
sails were hoisted they represented, as it were, the 
dragon's wings; and the ship was the handsomest in all 
Norway. The islands on which Raud dwelt were called 
Gylling and Haering ; but the whole islands together were 
called Godey Isles, and the current between the isles and 
the mainland the Godey Stream. King Olaf baptized the 
whole people of the fjord, and then sailed southwards 
along the land; and on this voyage happened much and 
various things, which are set down in tales and sagas, 
namely, how watches and evil spirits tormented his men, 
and sometimes himself; but we will rather write about 
what occurred when King Olaf made Norway Christian, 
or in the other countries in which he advanced Chris- 
tianity. The same autumn Olaf with his fleet returned 
to Throndhjem, and landed at Nidaros, where he took up 
his winter abode. What I am now going to write about 
concerns the Icelanders. 


Kjartan Olafson, a son's son of Hoskuld, and a daugh- 



ter's son of Egil Skallagrimson, came the same autumn 
(999) from Iceland to Nidaros, and he was considered 
to be the most agreeable and hopeful man of any born in 
Iceland. There was also Haldor, a son of Gudmund of 
Modruveller; and Kolbein, a son of Thord, Prey's gode, 
and a brother's son of Brennuflose; together with Svert- 
ing, a son of the gode Runolf. All these were heathens ; 
and besides them there were many more, some men of 
power, others common men of no property. There came 
also from Iceland considerable people, who, by Thang- 
brand's help, had been made Christians; namely, Gissur 
the white, a son of Teit Ketilbjornson ; and his mother was 
Alof, daughter of herse Bodvar, who was the son of 
Vikingakare. Bodvar's brother was Sigurd, father of 
Eirik Bjodaskalle, whose daughter Astrid was King 
Olaf's mother. Hjalte Skeggjason was the name of 
another Iceland man, who was married to Vilborg, Gissur 
the White's daughter. Hjalte was also a Christian; and 
King Olaf was very friendly to his relations Gissur and 
Hjalte, who lived with him. But the Iceland men who 
directed the ships, and were heathens, tried to sail away as 
soon as the king came to the town of Nidaros, for they 
were told the king forced all men to become Christians; 
but the wind came stiff against them, and drove them back 
to Nidarholm. They who directed the ships were 
Thorarin Nefjulfson, the skald Halfred Ottarson, Brand 
the Generous, and Thorleik, Brand's son. It was told the 
king that there were Icelanders with ships there, and all 
were heathen, and wanted to fly from a meeting with the 
king. Then the king sent them a message forbidding 



them to sail, and ordering them to bring their ships up to 
the town, which they did, but without discharging the 
cargoes. (They carried on their dealings and held a 
market at the king's pier. In spring they tried three 
times to slip away, but never succeeded ; so they continued 
lying at the king's pier. It happened one fine day that 
many set out to swim for amusement, and among them 
was a man who distinguished himself above the others in 
all bodily exercises. Kjartan challenged Halfred Van- 
dredaskald to try himself in swimming against this man, 
but he declined it. "Then will I make a trial," said 
Kjartan, casting off" his clothes, and springing into the 
water. Then he set after the man, seizes hold of his 
foot, and dives with him under water. They come up 
again, and without speaking a word dive again, and are 
much longer under water than the first time. They come 
up again, and without saying a word dive a third time, 
until Kjartan thought it was time to come up again, 
which, however, he could in no way accomplish, which 
showed sufficiently the difference in their strength. They 
were under water so long that Kjartan was almost 
drowned. They then came up, and swam to land. This 
Northman asked what the Icelander's name was. Kjartan 
tells his name. 

He says, "Thou art a good swimmer; but art thou 
expert also in other exercises?" 

Kjartan replied, that such expertness was of no great 

The Northman asks, "Why dost thou not inquire of me 
such things as I have asked thee about ?" 



Kjartan replies, "It is all one to me who thou art, or 
what thy name is." 

"Then will I," says he, "tell thee: I am Olaf Trygva- 

He asked Kjartan much about Iceland, which he 
answered generally, and wanted to withdraw as hastily 
as he could; but the king said, "Here is a cloak which I 
will give thee, Kjartan." And Kjartan took the cloak 
with many thanks.) 1 


When Michaelmas came, the king had high mass sung 
with great splendour. The Icelanders went there, listen- 
ing to the fine singing and the sound of the bells; and 
when they came back to their ships every man told his 
opinion of the Christian man's worship. Kjartan 
expressed his pleasure at it, but most of the others 
scoffed at it; and it went according to the proverb, "the 
king had many ears," for this was told to the king. He 
sent immediately that very day a message to Kjartan to 
come to him. Kjartan went to the king with some men, 
and the king received him kindly. Kjartan was a very 
stout and handsome man, and of ready and agreeable 
speech. After the king and Kjartan had conversed a 
little, the king asked him to adopt Christianity. Kjartan 
replies, that he would not say no to that, if he thereby 
obtained the king's friendship; and as the king promised 
him the fullest friendship, they were soon agreed. The 
next day Kjartan was baptized, together with his relation 

1 The part included in parenthesis is not found in the original text of 
Heimskringla, but taken from Codex Frisianus. 


YH aaaaaauM MOXAH 

1 io 

r ori B oJ 
ni ,>lT3r bsmsn UcirfT 

oJni log^Bb B XDLnta.^^^^1 

tuq folO 

d sd Ilsifil sHj ^fft 'gnnab'io -y;d JDB 



le who thou art, or 

what thy 

"Then will 1," c, "tell thee: I am Olaf Trygva- 

!;ed Kjartan much about Iceland, which he 
llv, and war withdraw as hastily 

king said, "Here is a cloak which I 
And Kjartan took the cloak 
(From a 

THE dispute between Olaf 
* the throne of Norway led to mariy battled, irt which the 
former was usually successful; trie 1 ll 
and compelled to flee to,a homegtead^itLlRiinillf 

riMaiuvf corf at.gJcat 

,of ire^ardiogf..^^. tUr^, t f^r) ^ (Hft^ ^Ufl 

ct ^ordpijin^ t^y^ th^^^e^e^. very 

me Mian, and of ready anS^^f^^rble 
- king and Kjartan had conversed a 
little, the king asked him to adopt Christianity. Kjartan 
replies, that be would not say no to that, if he thereby 
obtained the kind's friendship; and as the king promised 
him the fullest friendship, they were soon agreed. The 
next day Kjartan was baptized, together with his relation 

"rtx* F&rt included in parenthesis is not found In the original text of 
Ji#ttnkrlaglft. but t.akea from Cutter Prisianus. 



Bolle Thorlakson, and all their fellow-travelers. Kjartan 
and Bolle were the king's guests as long as they were in 
their white baptismal clothes, and the king had much 
kindness for them. Wherever they came they were 
looked upon as people of distinction. 


As King Olaf one day was walking in the street some 
men met him, and he who went the foremost saluted 
the king. The king asked the man his name, and he called 
himself Halfred. 

"Art thou the skald?" said the king. 

"I can compose poetry," replied he. 

"Wilt thou then adopt Christianity, and come into my 
service ?" asked the king. 

"If I am baptized," replies he, "it must be on one con- 
dition, that thou thyself art my godfather; for no other 
will I have." 

The king replies, "That I will do." And Halfred was 
baptized, the king holding him during the baptism. 

Afterwards the king said, "Wilt thou enter into my 

Halfred replied, "I was formerly in Earl Hakon's 
court ; but now I will neither enter into thine nor into any 
other service, unless thou promise me it shall never be my 
lot to be driven away from thee." 

"It has been reported to me," said the king, "that thou 
are neither so prudent nor so obedient as to fulfil my 

"In that case," replied Halfred, "put me to death." 




"Thou art a skald who composes difficulties," says the 
king; "but into my service, Halfred, thou shalt be 

Halfred says, "if I am to be named the composer of 
difficulties, what dost thou give me, king, on my name- 

The king gave him a sword without a scabbord, and 
said, "Now compose me a song upon this sword, and let 
the word sword be in every line of the strophe." Halfred 
sang thus : 

"This sword of swords is my reward. For this good sword a sheath to 
For him who knows to wield a choose ; 

sword, I'm worth three swords when men 
And with his sword to serve his lord, swords use, 

Yet wants a sword, his lot is hard. But for the sword-sheath now I 
I would I had my good lord's leave grieve." 

Then the king gave him the scabbard, observing that 
the word sword was wanting in one line of his strophe. 
"But there instead are three swords in one of the lines," 
says Halfred. "That is true," replies the king. Out of 
Halfred's lays we have taken the most of the true and 
faithful accounts that are here related about Olaf Trygva- 


The same harvest (999) Thangbrand the priest came 
back from Iceland to King Olaf, and told the ill success 
of his journey; namely, that the Icelanders had made 
lampoons about him; and that some even sought to kill 
him, and there was little hope of that country ever being 
made Christian. King Olaf was so enraged at this, that 
he ordered all the Icelanders to be assembled by sound of 
horn, and was going to kill all who were in the town, but 



Kjartan, Gissur, and Hjalte, with the other Icelanders 
who had become Christians, went to him, and said, "King-, 
thou must not fall from thy word that however much any 
man may irritate thee, thou wilt forgive him if he turn 
from heathenism and become Christian. All the Ice- 
landers here are willing to be baptized ; and through them 
we may find means to bring Christianity into Iceland : for 
there are many amongst them, sons of considerable people 
in Iceland, whose friends can advance the cause; but the 
priest Thangbrand proceeded there as he did here in the 
court, with violence and manslaughter, and such conduct 
the people there would not submit to." The king hark- 
ened to those remonstrances ; and all the Iceland men who 
were there were baptized. 


King Olaf was more expert in all exercises than any 
man in Norway whose memory is preserved to us in 
sagas; and he was stronger and more agile than most 
men, and many stories are written down about it. One 
is, that he ascended the Smalsarhorn, and fixed his shield 
upon the very peak. Another is, that one of his followers 
had climbed up the peak after him, until he came to 
where he could neither get up nor down; but the king 
came to his help, climbed up to him, took him under his 
arm, and bore him to the flat ground. King Olaf could 
run across the oars outside of the vessel while his men 
were rowing the Serpent. He could play with three 
daggers, so that one was always in the air, and he took 
the one falling by the handle. He could walk all round 



upon the ship's rails, could strike and cut equally well 
with both hands, and could cast two spears at once. King 
Olaf was a very merry frolicsome man ; gay and social ; 
was very violent in all respects ; was very generous ; was 
very finical in his dress, but in battle he exceeded all in 
bravery. He was distinguished for cruelty when he was 
enraged, and tortured many of his enemies. Some he 
burnt in fire; some he had torn in pieces by mad dogs; 
some he had mutilated, or cast down from high precipices. 
On this account his friends were attached to him warmly, 
and his enemies feared him greatly; and thus he made 
such a fortunate advance in his undertakings, for some 
obeyed his will out of the friendliest zeal, and others out 
of dread. 


Leif, a son of Eirik the Red, who first settled in Green- 
land, came this summer (999) from Greenland to Nor-r 
way; and as he met King Olaf he adopted Christianity, 
and passed the winter (1000) with the king. 


Gudrod, a son of Eirik Bloodaxe and Gunhild, had 
been ravaging in the western countries ever since he fled 
from Norway before the Earl Hakon. But the summer 
before mentioned (999), when King Olaf Trygvason had 
ruled four years over Norway, Gudrod came to the coun- 
try, and had many ships of war with him. He had sailed 
from England ; and when he thought himself near to the 
Norway coast, he steered south along the land, to the 
quarter where it was least likely King Olaf would be. 



Guclrocl sailed in this way south to Viken ; and as soon as 
he came to the land he began to plunder, to subject the peo- 
ple to him, and to demand that they should accept of him 
as king. Now as the country people saw that a great army 
was come upon them, they desired peace and terms. They 
offered King Gudrod to send a Thing-message over all 
the country, and to accept of him at the Thing as king, 
rather than suffer from his army ; but they desired delay 
until a fixed day, while the token of the Thing's assem- 
bling was going round through the land. The king 
demanded maintenance during the time this delay lasted. 
The bondes preferred entertaining the king as a guest, by 
turns, as long as he required it ; and the king accepted of 
the proposal to go about with some of his men as a guest 
from place to place in the land, while others of his men 
remained to guard the ships. When King Olaf s rela- 
tions, Hyrning and Thorgeir, heard of this, they gathered 
men, fitted out ships, and went northwards to Viken. They 
came in the night with their men to a place at which 
King Gudrod was living as a guest, and attacked him 
with fire and weapons; and there King Gudrod fell, and 
most of his followers. Of those Avho were with his ships 
some were killed, some slipped away and fled to great 
distances ; and now were all the sons of Eirik and Gunhild 


The winter after, King Olaf came from Halogaland 
(lO'OO), he had a great vessel built at Hladhamrar, which 
was larger than any ship in the country, and of which the 
beam-knees are still to be seen. The length of keel that 



rested upon the grass was seventy-four ells. Thorberg 
Skafhog was the man's name who was the master-builder 
of the ship; but there were many others besides, some to 
fell wood, some to shape it, some to make nails, some to 
carry timber ; and all that was used was of the best. The 
ship was both long and broad and high-sided, and strongly 

While they were planking the ship, it happened that 
Thorberg had to go home to his farm upon some urgent 
business ; and as he remained there a long time, the ship 
was planked up on both sides when he came back. In the 
evening the king went out, and Thorberg with him, to see 
how the vessel looked, and everybody said that never was 
seen so large and so beautiful a ship of war. Then, the 
king returned to the town. Early next morning the king 
returns again to the ship, and Thorberg with him. The 
carpenters were there before them, but all were standing 
idle with their arms across. The king asked, "what was 
the matter?" They said the ship was destroyed; for 
somebody had gone from stem to stern, and cut one deep 
notch after the other down the one side of the planking. 
When the king came nearer he saw it was so, and said, 
with an oath, "The man shall die who has thus destroyed 
the vessel out of envy, if he can be discovered, and I shall 
bestow a great reward on whoever finds him out." 

"I can tell you, king," said Thorberg, "who has done 
this piece of work." 

"I don't think," replies the king, "that any one is so 
likely to find it out as thou art." 

Thorberg says, "I will tell you, king, who did it. I 

did it myself." 

J 220 


The king says, "Thou must restore it all to the same 
condition as before, or thy life shall pay for it." 

Then Thorberg went and chipped the planks until the 
deep notches were all smoothed and made even with the 
rest; and the king and all present declared that the ship 
was much handsomer on the side of the hull which Thor- 
berg had chipped, and bade him shape the other side in 
the same way, and gave him great thanks for the improve- 
ment. Afterwards Thorberg was the master-builder of 
the ship until she was entirely finished. The ship was a 
dragon, built after the one the king had captured in Halo- 
galand; but this ship was far larger, and more carefully 
put together in all her parts. The king called this ship 
Serpent the Long, and the other Serpent the Short. The 
long Serpent had thirty-four benches for rowers. The 
head and the arched tail were both gilt, and the bulwarks 
were as high as in sea-going ships. This ship was the 
best and most costly ship ever made in Norway. 

Earl Eirik, the son of Earl Hakon, and his brothers, 
with many other valiant men their relations, had left the 
country after Earl Hakon's fall. Earl Eirik went east- 
wards to Svithjod, to Olaf, the Swedish king, and he and 
his people were well received. King Olaf gave the earl 
peace and freedom in the land, and great fiefs ; so that he 
could support himself and his men well. Thord Kolbein- 
son speaks of this in the verses before given. Many 
people who fled from the country on account of King Olaf 
Trygvason came out of Norway to Earl Eirik; and the 
earl resolved to fit out ships and go a-cruising, in order to 



get property for himself and his people. First he steered 
to Gotland, and lay there long in summer watching for 
merchant vessels sailing towards the land, or for vikings. 
Sometimes he landed and ravaged all round upon the sea- 
coasts. So it is told in the "Banda-drapa :" 

"Eirik, as we have lately heard, From Gotland's lonely shore has 
Has waked the song of shield and gone 

sword, Far up the land, and battles won ; 

Has waked the slumbering storm of And o'er the sea his name is spread. 

shields To friends a shield, to foes a dread." 
Upon the vikings' water-fields : 

Afterwards Earl Eirik sailed south to Vindland, and 
at Stauren found some viking ships, and gave them 
battle. Eirik gained the victory, and slew the vikings. 
So it is told in the "Banda-drapa:" 

"Earl Eirik, he who stoutly wields The strand with dead is studded o'er ; 

The battle-axe in storm of shields, The raven tears their sea-bleached 
With his long ships surprised the foe skins 

At Stauren, and their strength laid The land thrives well when Eirik 

low. wins." 

Many a corpse floats round the shore ; 

Earl Eirik sailed back to Sweden in autumn, and staid 
there all winter (997) ; but in spring he fitted out his war 
force again, and sailed up the Baltic. When he came to 
Valdemar's dominions he began to plunder and kill the 
inhabitants, and burn the dwellings everywhere as he 
came along, and to lay waste the country. He came to 
Aldeigiuburg, and besieged it until he took the castle; 
and he killed many people, broke down and burned the 
castle, and then carried destruction all around far and 
wide in Gardarike. So it is told in the "Banda-drapa :" 

"The generous earl, brave and bold, With arrow- shower, and storm of 
Who scatters his bright shining gold, war, 

Eirik with fire-scattering hand, Wasted the land of Valdemar. 

Wasted the Russian monarch's Aldeiga burns, and Eirik's might 
land, Scours through all Russia by its 



In Gautland he has seized the town, 
In Syssels harried up and down ; 
And all the people in dismay 
Fled to the forests far away. 
By land or sea, in field or wave, 
What can withstand this earl brave ? 
All fly before his fiery hand 
God save the earl, and keep the land." 

Earl Eirik was five years in all on this foray ; and when 
he returned from Gardarike he ravaged all Adalsysla and 
Eysysla, and took there four viking ships from the Danes, 
and killed every man on board. So it is told in the 
"Banda-drapa :"- 

"Among the isles flies round the 


That Eirik's blood-devouring sword 
Has flashed like fire in the Sound, 
And wasted all the land around. 
And Eirik too, the bold in fight, 
Has broken down the robber-might 
Of four great vikings, and has slain 
All of the crew nor spared one 


When Eirik had been a year in Sweden he went over 
to Denmark (996) to King Svein Tjuguskeg, the Danish 
king, and courted his daughter Gyda. The proposal was 
accepted, and Earl Eirik married Gyda; and a year after 
(997) they had a son, who was called Hakon. Earl Eirik 
was in the winter in Denmark, or sometimes in Sweden ; 
but in summer he went a-cruising. 


The Danish king, Svein Tjuguskeg, was married to 
Gunhild, a daughter of Burizleif, king of the Vinds. But 
in the times we have just been speaking of it happened 
that Queen Gunhild fell sick and died. Soon after King 
Svein married Sigrid the Haughty, a daughter of Skog- 
lartoste, and mother of the Swedish king Olaf ; and by 
means of this relationship there was great friendship 
between the kings and Earl Eirik, Hakon's son. 


Burizleif, the king of the Vinds, complained to his 



relation Earl Sigvalde, that the agreement was broken 
which Sigvalde had made between King Svein and King 
Burizleif, by which Burizleif was to get in marriage 
Thyre, Harald's daughter, a sister of King Svein: but 
that marriage had not proceeded, for Thyre had given a 
positive no to the proposal to marry her to an old and 
heathen king. "Now," said King Burizleif to Earl Sig- 
valde, "I must have the promise fulfilled." And he told 
Earl Sigvalde to go to Denmark, and bring him Thyre as 
his queen. Earl Sigvalde loses no time, but goes to King 
Svein of Denmark ; explains to him the case ; and brings 
it so far by his persuasion, that the king delivered his 
sister Thyre into his hands. With her went some female 
attendants, and her foster-father, by name Ozur Agason, 
a man of great power, and some other people. In the 
agreement between- the king and the earl, it was settled 
that Thyre should have in property the possessions which 
Queen Gunhild had enjoyed in Vindland, besides other 
great properties as bride-gifts. Thyre wept sorely, and 
went very unwillingly. When the earl came to Vindland, 
Burizleif held his wedding with Queen Thyre, and 
received her in marriage; but as long as she was among 
heathens she would neither eat nor drink with them, and 
this lasted for seven days. 


It happened one night that Queen Thyre and Ozur ran 
away in the dark, and into the woods, and, to be short in 
our story, came at last to Denmark. But here Thyre did 
not dare to remain, knowing that if her brother King 



8 vein heard of her, he would send her back directly to 
Vindland. She went on, therefore, secretly to Norway, 
and never stayed her journey until she fell in with King 
Olaf, by whom she was kindly received. Thyre related 
to the king her sorrows, and entreated his advice in her 
need, and protection in his kingdom. Thyre was a well- 
spoken woman, and the king had pleasure in her conver- 
sation. He saw she was a handsome woman, and it 
came into his mind that she would be a good match; so 
he turns the conversation that way, and asks if she will 
marry him. Now, as she saw that her situation was such 
that she could' not help herself, and considered what a luck 
it was for her to marry so celebrated a man, she bade him 
to dispose himself of her hand and fate; and, after nearer 
conversation, King Olaf took Thyre in marriage. This 
wedding was held in harvest after the king returned from 
Halogaland (999), and King Olaf and Queen Thyre 
remained all winter (1000) at Nidaros. 

The following spring Queen Thyre complained often 
to King Olaf, and wept bitterly over it, that she who had 
so great property in Vindland had no goods or possessions 
here in the country that were suitable for a queen; and 
sometimes she would entreat the king with fine words to 
get her property restored to her, and saying that King 
Burizleif was so great a friend of King Olaf that he would 
not deny King Olaf anything if they were to meet. But 
when King Olaf s friends heard of such speeches, they 
dissuaded him from any such expedition. It is related 
that the king one day early in spring was walking in the 
street, and met a man in the market with many, and, for 



that early season, remarkably large angelica roots. The 
king took a great stalk of the angelica in his hand, and 
went home to Queen Thyre's lodging. Thyre sat in her 
room weeping as the king came in. The king said, "See 
here, queen, is a great angelica stalk, which I give thee." 
She threw it away, and said, "A greater present Harald 
Gormson gave to my mother ; and he was not afraid to go 
out of the land and take his own. That was shown when 
he came here to Norway, and laid waste the greater part 
of the land, and seized on all the scat and revenues; and 
thou darest not go across the Danish dominions for this 
brother of mine, King Svein." As she spoke thus, King 
Olaf sprang up, and answered with a loud oath, "Never 
did I fear thy brother King Svein ; and if we meet he shall 
give way before me!" 


Soon after the king convoked a Thing in the town, and 
proclaimed to all the public, that in summer he would go 
abroad upon an expedition out of the country, and would 
raise both ships and men from every district; and at the 
same time fixed how many ships he would have from the 
whole Throndhjem fjord. Then he sent his message- 
token south and north, both along the sea-coast and up in 
the interior of the country, to let an army be gathered. 
The king ordered the Long Serpent to be put into the 
water, along with all his other ships both small and great. 
He himself steered the Long Serpent. When the crews 
were taken out for the ships, they were so carefully 
selected that no man on board the Long Serpent was 



older than sixty or younger than twenty years, and all 
were men distinguished for strength and courage. Those 
who were Olaf s body-guard were in particular chosen 
men, both of the natives and of foreigners, and the 
boldest and strongest. 


Ulf the Red was the name of the man who bore King 
Olaf s banner, and was in the forecastle of the Long 
Serpent; and with him was Kolbjorn the marshal, Thor- 
stein Uxafot, and Vikar of Tiundaland, a brother of 
Arnliot Gelline. By the bulkhead next the forecastle 
were Vak Raumason from Gaut River, Berse the Strong, 
An Skyte from Jamtaland, Thrand the Strong from Thel- 
amork ? and his brother Uthyrmer. Besides these were, of 
Halogaland men, Thrand Skjalge and Ogmund Sande, 
Hlodver Lange from Saltvik, and Harek Hvasse; 
together with these Throndhjem men Ketil the High, 
Thorfin Eisle, Havard and his brothers from Orkadal. 
The following were in. the fore-hold : Bjorn from Studla, 
Bork from the fjords, Thorgrim Thjodolfson from' Hvin, 
Asbjorn and Orm, Thord from Njardarlog, Thorstein 
the White from Oprustadar, Arnor from More, Halstein 
and Hauk from the Fjord-district, Eyvind Snak, Berg- 
thor Bestil, Halkel from Fialer, Olaf Dreng, Arnfin from 
Sogn, Sigurd Bild, Einar from Hordaland, and Fin, and 
Ketil from Rogaland, and Grjotgard the Brisk. The fol- 
lowing were in the hold next the mast: Einar Tamba- 
skelfer, who was not reckoned as fully experienced, being 
only eighteen years old; Thorstein Hlifarson, Thorolf, 



Ivar Smetta, and Orm Skogarnef. Many other valiant 
men were in the Serpent, although we cannot tell all their 
names. In every half division of the hold were eight 
men, and each and all chosen men; and in the fore-hold 
were thirty men. It was a common saying among people, 
that the Long Serpent's crew was as distinguished for 
bravery, strength, and daring, among other men, as the 
Long Serpent was distinguished among other ships. 
Thorkel Nef ja, the king's brother, commanded the Short 
Serpent; and Thorkel Dydril and Jostein, the king's 
mother's brothers, had the Crane; and both these ships 
were well manned. King Olaf had eleven large ships 
from Throndhjem, besides vessels with twenty rowers' 
benches, smaller vesels, and provision-vessels. 


When King Olaf had nearly rigged out his fleet in 
Nidaros, he appointed men over the Throndhjem country 
in all districts and communities. He also sent to Iceland 
Gissur the White and Hjalte Skeggjason, to proclaim 
Christianity there; and sent with them a priest called 
Thormod, along with several men in holy orders. But' 
he retained with him, as hostages, four Icelanders whom 
he thought the most important ; namely, Kjartan Olafson, 
Haldor Gudmundson, Kolbein Thordson, and Sverting 
Runolfson. Of Gissur and Hjalte's progress, it is related 
that they came to Iceland before the Althing, and went 
to the Thing; and in that Thing Christianity was intro- 
duced by law into Iceland, and in the course of the sum- 
mer all the people were baptized (1000). 



The same spring King Olaf also sent Leif Eirikson 
(1000) to Greenland to proclaim Christianity there, and 
Leif went there that summer. In the ocean he took up 
the crew of a ship which had been lost, and who were 
clinging to the wreck. He also found Vinland the Good ; 
arrived about harvest in Greenland ; and had with him for 
it a priest and other teachers, with whom he went to Brat- 
tahild to lodge with his father Eirik. People called him 
afterwards Leif the Lucky : but his father Eirik said that 
his luck and ill luck balanced each other ; for if Leif had 
saved a wreck in the ocean, he had brought a hurtful 
person with him to Greenland, and that was the priest. 


(The winter after King Olaf had baptized Halogaland, 
he and Queen Thyre were in Nidaros; and the summer 
before Queen Thyre had brought King Olaf a boy-child, 
which was both stout and promising, and was called 
Harald, after its mother's father. The king and queen 
loved the infant exceedingly, and rejoiced in the hope that 
it would grow up and inherit after its father ; but it lived 
barely a year after its birth, which both took much to 
heart. In that winter were many Icelanders and other 
clever men in King Olaf s house, as before related. His 
sister Ingebjorg, Trygve's daughter, King Olaf s sister, 
was also at the court at that time. She was beautiful in 
appearance, modest and frank with the people, had a 
steady manly judgment, and was beloved of all. She was 
very fond of the Icelanders who were there, but most of 



Kjartan Olafson, for he had been longer than the others 
in the king's house; and he found it always amusing to 
converse with her, for she had both understanding and 
cleverness in talk. The king was always gay and full of 
mirth in his intercourse with the people ; and often asked 
about the manners of the great men and chiefs in the 
neighbouring countries, when strangers from Denmark or 
Sweden came to see him. The summer before Halfred 
Vandredaskald had come from Gautland, where he had 
been with Earl Ragnvald, Ulf's son, who had lately come 
to the government of West Gautland. Ulf, Ragnvald's 
father, was a brother of Sigrid the Haughty; so that 
King Olaf the Swede and Earl Ragnvald were brother's 
and sister's children. Halfred told Olaf many things 
about the earl : he said he was an able chief, excellently 
fitted for governing, generous with money, brave and 
steady in friendship. Halfred said also that the earl 
desired much the friendship of King Olaf, and had spoken 
of making court to Ingebjorg, Trygve's daughter. The 
same winter came ambassadors from Gautland, and fell 
in with King Olaf in the north, in Nidaros, and brought 
the message which Halfred had spoken of, that the earl 
desired to be King Olaf s entire friend, and wished to 
become his brother-in-law by obtaining his sister Inge- 
bjorg in marriage. Therewith the ambassadors laid before 
the king sufficient tokens in proof that in reality they 
came from the earl on this errand. The king listened with 
approbation to their speech ; but said that Ingebjorg must 
determine on his assent to the marriage. The king then 
talked to his sister about the matter, and asked her opinion 



about it. She answered to this effect, "I have been with 
you for some time, and you have shown brotherly care 
and tender respect for me ever since you came to the coun- 
try. I will agree therefore to your proposal about my 
marriage, provided that you do not marry me to a heathen 
man." The king said it should be as she wished. The 
king then spoke to the ambassadors ; and it was settled 
before they departed that in summer Earl RagnvaM 
should meet the king in the east parts of the country, to 
enter into the fullest friendship with each other, and when 
they met they would settle about the marriage. With this 
reply the earl's messengers went westward, and King Olaf 
remained all winter in Nidaros in great splendour, and 
with many people about him). 


King Olaf proceeded in summer with his ships and men 
southwards along the land (and past Stad. With him 
were Queen Thy re and Ingebjorg, Trygve's daughter, 
the king's sister). Many of his friends also joined him, 
and other persons of consequence who had prepared them- 
selves to travel with the king. The first man among 
these was his brother-in-law, Erling Skjalgson, who had 
with him a large ship of thirty benches of rowers, and 
which was in every respect well equipt. His brothers- 
in-law Hyrning and Thorgeir also joined him, each of 
whom for himself steered a large vessel ; and many other 
powerful men besides followed him. (With all this war- 
force he sailed southwards along the land; but when he 
came south as far as Rogaland he stopped there, for 

16 231 


Erling Skjalgson had prepared for him a splendid feast 
at Sole. There Earl Ragnvald, Ulf s son, from Gaut- 
land, came to meet the king, and to settle the business 
which had been proposed in winter in the messages 
between them, namely, the marriage with Ingebjorg the 
king's sister. Olaf received him kindly; and when the 
matter came to be spoken of, the king said he would keep 
his word, and marry his sister Ingebjorg to him, provided 
he would accept the true faith, and make all his subjects 
he ruled over in his land be baptized. The earl agreed to 
this, and he and all his followers were baptized. Now was 
the feast enlarged that Erling had prepared, for the earl 
held his wedding there with Ingebjorg the king's sister. 
King Olaf had now married off all his sisters. The earl, 
with Ingebjorg, set out on his way home; and the king 
sent learned men with him to baptize the people in Gaut- 
land, and to teach them the right faith and morals. The 
king and the earl parted in the greatest friendship.) 


(After his sister Ingebjorg's wedding, the king made 
ready in all haste to leave the country with his army, 
which was both great and made up of fine men.) When 
he left the land and sailed southwards he had sixty ships 
of war, with which he sailed past Denmark, and in 
through the Sound, and on to Vindland. He appointed 
a meeting with King Burizleif ; and when the kings met, 
they spoke about the property which King Olaf demanded, 
and the conference went off peaceably, as a good account 
was given of the properties which King Olaf thought 



himself entitled to there. He passed here much of the 
summer, and found many of his old friends. 


The Danish king, Svein Tjuguskeg, was married, as 
before related, to Sigrid the Haughty. Sigrid was King 
Olaf Trygvason's greatest enemy ; the cause of which, as 
before said, was that King Olaf had broken off with her, 
and had struck her in the face. She urged King Svein 
much to give battle to King Olaf Trygvason ; saying that 
he had reason enough, as Olaf had married his sister 
Thyre without his leave, "and that your predecessors 
w r ould not have submitted to/' Such persuasions Sigrid 
had often in her mouth ; and at last she brought it so far 
that Svein resolved firmly on doing so. Early in spring 
King Svein sent messengers eastward into Svithjod, to 
his son-in-law Olaf, the Swedish king, and to Earl Eirik ; 
and informed them that King Olaf of Norway was levy- 
ing men for an expedition, and intended in summer to go 
to Vindland. To this news the Danish king added an 
invitation to the Swedish king and Earl Eirik to meet 
King Svein with an army, so that all together they might 
make an attack on King Olaf Trygvason. The Swedish 
king and Earl Eirik were ready enough for this, and 
immediately assembled a great fleet and an army through 
all Svithjod, with which they sailed southwards to Den- 
mark, and arrived there after King Olaf Trgyvason had 
sailed to the eastward. Haldor the Unchristian tells of 
this in his lay on Earl Eirik : 



"The klng-subduer raised a host The brave, who fill th wild wolf's 

Of warriors on the Swedish coast. mouth, 

The brave went southwards to the Followed bold Eirik to the south ; 

fight, The brave, who sport in blood each 
Who love the sword-storm's gleam- one 

ing light ; With the bold earl to sea is gone." 

The Swedish king and Earl Eirik sailed to meet the 
Danish king, and they had all, when together, an immense 


At the same time that King Svein sent a message to 
Svithjod for an army, he sent Earl Sigvakle to Vindland 
to spy out King Olaf Trygvason's proceedings, and to 
bring it about by cunning devices that King Svein and 
King Olaf should fall in with each other. So Sigvalde 
sets out to go to Vindland. First, he came to Jomsborg, 
and then he sought out King Olaf Trygvason. There 
was much friendship in their conversation, and the earl 
got himself into great favour with the king. Astrid, 
the Earl's wife, King Burizleif's daughter, was a great 
friend of King Olaf Trygvason, particularly on acount of 
the connection which had been between them when Olaf 
was married to her sister Geira. Earl Sigvalde was a 
prudent, ready-minded man ; and as he had got a voice in 
King Olaf s council, he put him off much from sailing 
homewards, finding various reasons for delay. Olaf's 
people were in the highest degree dissatisfied with this ; for 
the men were anxious to get home, and they lay ready to 
sail, waiting only for a wind. At last Earl Sigvalde 
got a secret message from Denmark that the Swedish 
king's army was arrived from the east, and that Earl 
Eirik's also was ready; and that all these chiefs had 



resolved to sail eastwards to Vindland, and wait for King 
Olaf at an island which is called Svold. They also 
desired the earl to contrive matters so that they should 
meet King Olaf there. 


There came first a flying report to Vindland that the 
Danish king, Svein, had fitted out an army; and it was 
soon whispered that he intended to attack King Olaf. 
But Earl Sigvalde says to King Olaf, "It never can be 
King Svein's intention to venture with the Danish force 
alone, to give battle to thee with such a powerful army ; 
but if thou hast any suspicion that evil is on foot, I will 
follow thee with my force (at that time is was considered 
a great matter to have Jomsborg vikings with an army), 
and I will give thee eleven well-manned ships." The 
king accepted this offer ; and as the light breeze of wind 
that came was favourable, he ordered the ships to get 
under weigh, and the war-horns to sound the departure. 
The sails were hoisted ; and all the small vessels, sailing 
fastest, got out to sea before the others. The earl, who 
sailed nearest to the king's ship, called to those on board 
to tell the king to sail in his keel-track: "For I know 
where the water is deepest between the islands and in the 
sounds, and these large ships require the deepest." Then 
the earl sailed first with his eleven ships, and the king fol- 
lowed with his large ships, also eleven in number; but 
the whole of the rest of the fleet sailed out to sea. Now 
when Earl Sigvalde came sailng close under the island 
Svold, a skiff rowed out to inform the earl that the Danish 



king's army was lying in the harbour before them. Then 
the earl ordered the sails of his vessels to be struck, and 
they rowed in under the island. Haldor the Unchristian 
says : 

"From out the south bold Trygve's But the false earl the king betrayed ; 

son And treacherous Sigvalde, it is said, 

With one-and-seventy ships came on, Deserted from King Olaf 's fleet, 

To dye his sword in bloody fight, And basely fled, the Danes to meet." 
Against the Danish foeman's might. 

It is said here that King Olaf and Earl Sigvalde had 
seventy sail of vessels and one more, when they sailed 
from the south. 


The Danish King Svein, the Swedish King Olaf, and 
Earl Eirik, were there with all their forces (1000). The 
weather being fine and clear sunshine, all these chiefs, 
with a great suite, went out on the isle to see the vessels 
sailing out at sea, and many of them crowded together; 
and they saw among them one large and glancing ship. 
The two kings said, "That is a large and very beautiful 
vessel : that will be the Long Serpent." 

Earl Eirik replied, "That is not the Long Serpent." 
And he was right ; for it was the ship belonging to Ein- 
dride of Gimsar. 

Soon after they saw another vessel coming sailing along 
much larger than the first ; then says King Svein, "Olaf 
Trygvason must be afraid, for he does not venture to sail 
with the figure-head of the dragon upon his ship." 

Says Earl Eirik, "That is not the king's ship yet; for 
I know that ship by the coloured stripes of cloth in her 
sail. That is Erling Skialgson's. Let him sail; for it is 



the better for us that this ship is away from Olaf s fleet, 
so well equipt as she is." 

Soon after they saw and knew Earl Sigvalde's ships, 
which turned in and laid themselves under the island. 
Then they saw three ships coming along under sail, and 
one of them very large. King Svein ordered his men to 
go to their ships, "for there comes the Long Serpent." 

Earl Eirik says, "Many other great and stately vessels 
have they besides the Long Serpent. Let us wait a little." 

Then said many, "Earl Eirik will not fight and avenge 
his father; and it is a great shame that it should be told 
that we lay here with so great a force, and allowed King 
Olaf to sail out to sea before our eyes." 

But when they had spoken thus for a short time, they 
saw four ships coming sailing along, of which one had a 
large dragon-head richly gilt. Then King Svein stood 
up and said, "That dragon shall carry me this evening 
high, for I shall steer it." 

Then said many, "The Long Serpent is indeed a won- 
derfully large and beautiful vessel, and it shows a great 
mind to have built such a ship." 

Earl Eirik said so loud that several persons heard him, 
"If King Olaf had no other vessels but only that one, 
King Svein would never take it from him with the Danish 
force alone." 

Thereafter all the people rushed on board their ships, 
took down the tents, and in all haste made ready for 

While the chiefs were speaking among themselves as 
above related, they saw three very large ships coming 



sailing along, and at last after them a fourth, and that 
was the Long Serpent. Of the large ships which had 
gone before, and which they had taken for the Long 
Serpent, the first was the Crane; the one after that was 
the Short Serpent; and when they really saw the Long 
Serpent, all knew, and nobody had a word to say against 
it, that it must be Olaf Trygvason who was sailing in 
such a vessel ; and they went to their ships to arm' for the 

An agreement had been concluded among the chiefs, 
King Svein, King Olaf the Swede, and Earl Eirik, that 
they should divide Norway among them in three parts, in 
case they succeeded against Olaf Trygvason ; but that he of 
the chiefs who should first board the Serpent should have 
her, and all the booty found in her, and each should have 
the ships he cleared for himself. Earl Eirik had a large 
ship of war which he used upon his viking expeditions; 
and there was an iron beard or comb above on both sides 
of the stem, and below it a thick iron plate as broad as 
the combs, which went down quite to the gunnel. 

112. OF KING oivAF's PEOPLE. 

When Earl Sigvalde with his vessels rowed in under 
the island, Thorkel Dydril of the Crane, and the other 
ship commanders who sailed with him, saw that he turned 
his ships towards the isle, and thereupon let fall the sails, 
and rowed after him, calling out, and asking why he sailed 
that way. The Earl answered, that he was waitng for 
King Olaf, as he feared there were enemies in the way. 
They lay upon their oars until Thorkel Nefia came up 



with the Short Serpent and the three ships which followed 
him. When they told them the same they too struck sail, 
and let the ships drive, waiting for King Olaf. But when 
the king sailed in towards the isle, the whole enemies' 
fleet came rowing within them out to the Sound. When 
they saw this they begged the king to hold on his way, 
and not risk battle with so great a force. The king 
replied, high on the quarter-deck where he stood, "Strike 
the sails ; never shall men of mine think of flight. I never 
fled from battle. Let God dispose of my life, but flight 
I shall never take/' It was done as the king commanded. 
Halfred tells of it thus : 

"And far and wide the saying bold 
Of the brave warrior shall be told. 
The king, in many a fray well tried, 
To his brave champions round him 

'My men shall never learn from me 
From the dark weapon-cloud to flee.' 
Nor were the brave words spoken then 
Forgotten by his faithful men." 


King Olaf ordered the war-horns to sound for all his 
ships to close up to each other. The king's ship lay in the 
middle of the line, and on one side lay the Little Serpent, 
and on the other the Crane; and as they made fast the 
stems together, Hhe Long Serpent's stem and the short 
Serpent's were made fast together ; but when the king saw 
it he called out to his men, and ordered them to lay the 
larger ship more in advance, so that its stern should not 
lie so far behind in the fleet. 

Then says Ulf the Red, "If the Long Serpent is to lie 

x The mode of fighting in sea battles appears, from this and many 
other descriptions, to have been for each party to bind together the 
stems and sterns of their own ships, forming them thus into a compact 
body as soon as the fleets came within fighting distance, or within spears 
throw. They appear to have fought principally from the forecastles; and 
to have used grappling-irons for dragging a vessel out of the line, or 
within boarding distance. L. 



as much more ahead of the other ships as she is longer 
than them, we shall have hard work of it here on the fore- 

The king replies, "I did not think I had a forecastle 
man afraid as well as red." 

Says Ulf, "Defend thou the quarterdeck as I shall the 

The king had a bow in his hands, and laid an arrow on 
the string, and aimed at Ulf. 

Ulf said, "Shoot another way, king, where it is more 
needful: my work is thy gain." 


King Olaf stood on the Serpent's quarterdeck, high 
over the others. He had a gilt shield, and a helmet inlaid 
with gold; over his armour he had a short red coat, and 
was easy to be distinguished from other men. When 
King Olaf saw that the scattered forces of the enemy 
gathered themselves together under the banners of their 
ships, he asked, "Who is the chief of the force right 
opposite to us?" 

He was answered, that it was King Svein with the 
Danish army. 

The king replies, "We are not afraid of these soft 
Danes, for there is no bravery in them; but who are the 
troops on the right of the Danes?" 

He was answered, that it was King Olaf with the 
Swedish forces. 

"Better it were," says King Olaf, "for these Swedes to 
be sitting at home killing their sacrifices, than to be ven- 



turing under our weapons from the Long Serpent. But 
who owns the large ships on the larboard side of the 

"That is Earl Eirik Hakonson," say they. 

The king replies, "He, methinks, has good reason for 
meeting us ; and we may expect the sharpest conflict with 
these men, for they are Norsemen like ourselves." 


The kings now laid out their oars, and prepared to 
attack (1000). King Svein laid his ship against the 
Long Serpent. Outside of him Olaf the Swede laid 
himself, and set his ship's stem against the outermost ship 
of King Olaf 's line ; and on the other side lay Earl Eirik. 
Then a hard combat began. Earl Sigvalde held back with 
the oars on his ships, and did not join the fray. So says 
Skule Thorsteinson, who at that time was with Earl 
Eirik : 

"I followed Sigvalde in my youth, Where arrows whistled on the shore 

And gallant Eirik ; and in truth, Of Svold fiord my shield I bore, 

Tho' now I am grown stiff and old, And stood amidst the loudest clash 
In the spear-song I once was bold. When swords on shields made fear- 

ful crash." 

And Halfred also sings thus : 

"In truth I think the gallant king, And left our brave king in the fray, 

'Midst such a foemen's gathering, Two great kings' power to withstand, 

Would be the better of some score And one great earl's, with his small 
Of his tight Throndhjem lads, or band. 

more ; The king who dares such mighty deed 

For many a chief has run away, A hero for his skald would need." 


This battle was one of the severest told of, and many 
were the people slain. The forecastle men of the Long 
Serpent, the Little Serpent, and the Crane, threw grap- 



lings and stem chains into King Svein's ship, and used 
their weapons well against the people standing below 
them, for they cleared the decks of all the ships they could 
lay fast hold of; and King Svein, and all the men who 
escaped, fled to other vessels, and laid themselves out of 
bow-shot. It went with this force just as King Olaf 
Trygvason had foreseen. Then King Olaf the Swede 
laid himself in their place; but when he came near the 
great ships it went with him as with them, for he lost 
many men and some ships, and was obliged to get away. 
But Earl Eirik laid his ship side by side with the outer- 
most of King Olaf s ships, thinned it of men, cut the 
cables, and let it drive. Then he laid alongside of the 
next, and fought until he had cleared it of men also. Now 
all the people who were in the smaller ships began to run 
into the larger, and the earl cut them loose as fast as he 
cleared them of men. The Danes and Swedes laid them- 
selves now out of shooting distance all around Olaf s 
ship; but Earl Eirik lay always close alongside of the 
ships, and used his swords and battle-axes, and as fast as 
people fell in his vessel others, Danes and Swedes, came in 
their place. So says Haldor the Unchristian : 

"Sharp was the clang of shield and And still fresh foemen, it is said, 

sword, Earl Eirik to her long side led ; 

And shrill the song of spears on Whole armies of his Danes and 
board, Swedes, 

And whistling arrows thickly flew Wielding on high their blue sword- 

Against the Serpent's gallant crew. blades." 

Then the fight became most severe, and many people 
fell. But at last it came to this, that all King Olaf Trygva- 
sOn's ships were cleared of men except the Long Serpent, 
on board of which all who could still carry their arms 



were gathered. Then Earl Eirik lay with his ship by the 
side of the Serpent, and the fight went on with battle-axe 
and sword. So says Haldor : 

"Hard pressed on every side by foes, 
The Serpent reels beneath the blows ; 
Crash go the shields around the bow ! 
Breast-plates and breasts pierced 
thro' and thro' ! 

In the sword-storm the Holm beside, 
The earl's ship lay alongside 
The king's Long Serpent of the sea 
Fate gave the earl the victory." 


Earl Eirik was in the forehold of his ship, where a 
cover of shields 1 had been set up. In the fight, both 
hewing weapons, sword, and axe, and the thrust of spears 
had been used; and all that could be used as weapon for 
casting was cast. Some used bows, some threw spears 
with the hand. So many weapons were cast into the 
Serpent, and so thick flew spears and arrows, that the 
shields could scarcely receive them; for on all sides the 
Serpent was surrounded by war-ships. Then King Olaf's 
men became so mad with rage, that they ran on board of 
the enemies ships, to get at the people with stroke of sword 
and kill them; but many did not lay themselves so near 
the Serpent, in order to escape the close encounter with 
battle-axe or sword; and thus the most of Olafs men 
went overboard and sank under their weapons, thinking 
they were fighting on plain ground. So says Halfred : 

The foe was daunted at their cheers : 
The king, who still the Serpent 


In such a strait beset with foes 
Wanted but some more lads like 


"The daring lads shrink not from 

O erboard they leap, and sink be- 

The Serpent's keel : all armed they 

And down they sink five fathoms 

iBoth in land and sea fights the commanders appear to have been 
protected from missile weapons, stones, arrows, spears, by a shieldburg ; 
that is, by a party of men bearing shields surrounding them in such a 
way that the shields were a parapet, covering those within the circle. The 
Romans had a similar military arrangement of shields in sieges the 
testudo. L. 



Einar Tambarskelver, one of the sharpest of bow- 
shooters, stood by the mast, and shot with his bow. Einar 
shot an arrow at Earl Eirik, which hit the tiller-end just 
above the earl's head so hard that it entered the wood up 
to the arrow-shaft. The earl looked that way, and asked 
if they knew who had shot; and at the same moment 
another arrow flew between his hand and his side, and into 
the stuffing of the chief's stool, so that the barb stood far 
out on the other side. Then said the earl to a man called 
Fin, but some say he was of Fin (Laplander) race, and 
was a superior archer, "Shoot that tall man by the 
mast." Fin shot ; and the arrow hit the middle of Einar's 
bow just at the moment that Einar was drawing it, and 
the bow was split in two parts. 

"What is that," cried King Olaf, "that broke with such 
a noise?" 

"Norway, king, from thy hands," cried Einar. 

"No! not quite so much as that," says the king; "take 
my bow, and shoot," flinging the bow to him. 

Einar took the bow, and drew it over the head of the 
arrow. "Too weak, too weak," said he, "for the bow of 
a mighty king!" and, throwing the bow aside, he took 
sword and shield, and fought valiantly. 


The king stood on the gangways of the Long Serpent, 
and shot the greater part of the day ; sometimes with the 
bow, sometimes with the spear, and always throwing two 
spears at once. He looked down over the ship's sides, 



and saw that his men struck briskly with their swords, 
and yet wounded but seldom. Then he called aloud, 
"Why do ye strike so gently that ye seldom cut?" One 
among the people answered, "The swords are blunt and 
full of notches." Then the king went down into the fore- 
hold, opened the chest under the throne, and took out 
many sharp swords, which he handed to his men ; but as 
he stretched down his right hand with them, some 
observed that blood was running down under his steel 
glove, but no one knew where he was wounded. 


Desperate was the defence in the Serpent, and there 
was the heaviest destruction of men done by the forecastle 
crew, and those of the forehold, for in both places the men 
were chosen men, and the ship was highest; but in the 
middle of the ship the people were thinned. Now when 
Earl Eirik saw there were but few people remaining 
beside the ship's mast, he determined to board; and he 
entered the Serpent with four others. Then came Hyrn- 
ing, the king's brother-in-law, and some others against 
him, and there was the most severe combat; and at last 
the earl was forced to leap back on board his own ship 
again, and some who had accompanied him were killed, 
and others wounded. Thord Kolbeinson alludes to 
this : 

"On Odin's deck, all wet with blood, 

The helm-adorned hero stood ; 

And gallant Hyrnlng honour gained, 

Clearing all round with sword deep 


The high mountain peaks shall fall, 
Ere men forget this to recall." 

Now the fight became hot indeed, and many men fell 
on board the Serpent ; and the men on board of her began 



to be thinned off, and the defence to be weaker. The earl 
resolved to board the Serpent again, and again he met 
with a warm reception. When the forecastle men of the 
Serpent saw what he was doing, they went aft and made 
a desperate fight; but so many men of the Serpent had 
fallen, that the ship's sides were in many places quite bare 
of defenders; and the earl's men poured in all around into 
the vessel, and all the men who were still able to defend 
the ship crowded aft to the king, and arrayed themselves 
for his defence. So says Haldor the Unchristian : 

"Eirik cheers on his men, 
'On to the charge again !' 
The gallant few 
Of Olaf's crew 
Must refuge take 
On the quarter-deck. 
Around the king 

They stand in ring ; 

Their shields enclose 

The king from foes, 

And the few who still remain 

Fight madly, hut in vain. 

Eirik cheers on his men 

'On to the charge again !' " 


Kolbjorn the marshal, who had on clothes and arms 
like the king's, and was a remarkably stout and hand- 
some man, went up to the king on the quarter-deck. The 
battle was still going on fiercely even in the forehold. 1 
But as many of the earl's men had now got into the 
Serpent as could find room, and his ships lay all round 
her, and few were the people left in the Serpent for 
defence against so great a force ; and in a short time most 
of the Serpent's men fell, brave and stout though they 
were. King Olaf and Kolbjorn the marshal both sprang 
overboard, each on his own side of the ship; but the 

1 Prom the occasional descriptions of vessels in this and other battles, 
it may be inferred that even the Long Serpent, described in the 95th 
chapter as of 150 feet of keel was only decked fore and aft ; the thirty-four 
benches for rowers occupying the open area in the middle, and probably 
gangways running along the sides for communicating from the quarter- 
deck to the forcastle. L. 



earl's men had laid out boats around the Serpent, and 
killed those who leaped overboard. Now when the king 
had sprung overboard, they tried to seize him with their 
hands, and bring him to Earl Eirik ; but King Olaf threw 
his shield over his head, and sank beneath the waters. 
Kolbjorn held his shield behind him to protect himself 
from the spears cast at him from the ships which lay round 
the Serpent, and he fell so upon his shield that it came 
under him, so that he could not sink so quickly. He was 
thus taken and brought into a boat, and they supposed he 
was the king. He was brought before the earl; and 
when the earl saw it was Kolbjorn, and not the king, he 
gave him his life. At the same moment all of King Olaf 's 
men who were in life sprang overboard from the Serpent ; 
and Thorkel Nefia, the king's brother, was the last of all 
the men who sprang overboard. It is thus told concern- 
ing the king by Half red : 

"The Serpent and the Crane Many a war-chance had come o'er, 

Lay wrecks upon the main. He spoke a word then drew in 
On his sword he cast a glance, breath, 

With it he saw no chance. And sprang to his deep-sea death." 
To his marshal, who of yore 


Earl Sigvalde, as before related, came from Vindland, 
in company with King Olaf, with ten ships ; but the elev- 
enth ship was manned with the men of Astrid, the king's 
daughter, the wife of Earl Sigvalde. Now when King 
Olaf sprang overboard, the whole army raised a shout 
of victory ; and then Earl Sigvalde and his men put their 
oars in the water and rowed towards the battle. Haldor 
the Unchristian tells of it thus : 

17 2 47 


"Then first the Vlndland vessels Still oped her grim jaws for the 

caine feast. 

Into the fight with little fame ; The few who stood now quickly fled. 

The fight still lingered on the wave, When the shout told 'Olaf is 
Tho' hope was gone with Olaf brave. dead !' " 

War, like a full-fed ravenous beast, 

But the Vindland cutter, in which Astrid's men were, 
rowed back to Vindland; and the report went immedi- 
ately abroad and was told by many, that King Olaf had 
cast off his coat-of-mail under water, and had swum, 
diving under the long-ships, until he came to the Vind- 
land cutter, and that Astrid's men had conveyed him to 
Vindland : and many tales have been made since about 
the adventures of Olaf the king. Halfred speaks thus 
about it: 

"Does Olaf live? or is he dead? This I can say, nor fear to lie, 

Has he the hungry ravens fed ? That he was wounded grievously 

I scarcely know what I should say, So wounded in this bloody strife, 

For many tell the tale each way. He scarce could come away with life." 

But however this may have been, King Olaf Tryg- 
vason never came back again to his kingdom of Norway. 
Halfred Vandredaskald speaks also thus about it: 

"The witness who reports this thing From the far east some news is rife 

Of Trygvason, our gallant king, Of king sore wounded saving life ; 

Once served the king, and truth His death, too sure, leaves me no care 

should tell, For cobweb rumours in the air. 

For Olaf hated lies like hell. It never was the will of fate 

If Olaf 'scaped from this sword- That Olaf from such perilous strait 

thing, Should 'scape with life! this truth 
Worse fate, I fear, befel our king may grieve 

Than people guess, or e'er can know, 'What people wish they soon be- 
For he was hemm'd in by the foe. lieve.' " 


By this victory Earl Eirik Hakonson became owner 
of the Long Serpent, and made a great booty besides; 
and he steered the Serpent from the battle. So says 



"Olaf, with glittering helmet But the descendant of great Heming, 

crowned, Whose race tells many a gallant sea- 
Had steered the Serpent through the king, 

Sound; His blue sword in red life-blood 
And people dressed their boats, and stained, 

cheered, And bravely Olaf's long ship gained." 
As Olaf's fleet in splendour steered. 

Svein, a son of Earl Hakon, and Earl Eirik's brother, 
was engaged at this time to marry Holmfrid, a daughter 
of King Olaf the Swedish king. Now when Svein the 
Danish king, Olaf the Swedish king, and Earl Eirik 
divided the kingdom of Norway between them, King 
Olaf got four districts in the Throndhjem country, and 
also the districts of More and Raumsdal ; and in the east 
part of the land he got Ranrike, from the Gaut river to 
Svinasund. Olaf gave these dominions into Earl Svein's 
hands, on the same conditions as the sub-kings or earls 
had held them formerly from the upper-king of the coun- 
try. Earl Eirik got four districts in the Throndhjem 
country, and Halogaland, Naumudal, the Fiord districts, 
Sogn, Hordaland, Rogaland, and North Agder, all the 
way to the Naze. So says Thord Kolbeinson : 

"All chiefs within our land Prom Veiga to Agder they, 

On Eirik's side now stand : Well pleased, the earl obey ; 

Erling alone, I know, And all will by him stand, 

Remains Earl Eirik's foe. To guard the Norsemen's land. 

All praise our generous earl, And now the news is spread 

He gives, and is no churl : That mighty Svein is dead, 

All men are well content And luck is gone from those 

Fate such a chief has sent. Who were the Norsemen's foes." 

The Danish king Svein retained Viken as he had held it 
before, but he gave Raumarike and Hedemark to Earl 
Eirik. Svein Hakonson got the title of earl from Olaf 
the Swedish king. Svein was one of the handsomest men 
ever seen. The earls Eirik and Svein both allowed them- 
selves to be baptized, and took up the true faith ; but as 
long as they ruled in Norway they allowed every one to 



do as he pleased in holding by his Christianity. But, 
on the other hand, they held fast by the old laws, and all 
the old rights and customs of the land, and were excellent 
men and good rulers. Earl Eirik had most to say of 
the two brothers in all matters of government. 




OLAF HARALDSON the Saint's Saga is the longest, the most 
important, and the most finished of all the sagas in HeimsJcringla. 
The life of Olaf will be found treated more or less freely in 
Agrip, in Historia Norvegiae, in Thjodrek the Monk, in the 
legendary saga, and in FagrsJcinna. Other old Norse literature 
relating to this epoch: 

Are's Islendingabok. Landnama. Kristni Saga. Biskupa-sogur. Njala. 
Gunlaugs Saga Ormstungu. Bjarnar Saga Hitdaelakappa. Hallfredar Thattr 
Vandrsedaskalds. Eyrbyggia. Viga Styrs Saga. Laxdaela. Postbrcedra. Gretla. 
Liosvetninga. Paereyinga. Orkneyinga. 

Olaf Haraldson was born 995, went as a viking at the age 
of twelve, 1007; visited England, one summer and three winters, 
1009-1012; in France two summers and one winter, 1012-1013; 
spent the winter in Normandy, 1014; returned to Norway and 
was recognised as King, April 3, 1015; fled from Norway the 
winter of 1028-1029; fell at Stiklestad, July 29 (or August 31), 

Skalds quoted in this saga are: Ottar Svarte, Sigvat Skald, 
Thord Kolbeinson, Berse Torfason, Brynjolf, Arnor Jarlaskald, 
Thord Siarekson, Harek, Thorarin Loftunga, Halvard Hareksblese, 
Bjarne Gulbraskald, Jokul Bardson, Thormod Kolbrunarskald, 
Gissur, Thorfin Mun, Hofgardaref. 

Olaf, Harald Grenske's son, was brought up by his 
stepfather Sigurd Syr and his mother Asta. Hrane the 
Far-travelled lived in the house of Asta, and fostered 
this Olaf Haraldson. Olaf came early to manhood, was 
handsome in countenance, middle-sized in growth, and 
was even when very young of good understanding and 
ready speech. Sigurd his stepfather was a careful house- 

Olaf the Saint reigned from about the year 1015 to 1030. The 
death of King Olaf Trygvason was in the year 1000; and Earl Eirik 
held the government for the Danish and Swedish kings about fifteen 
years. L. 



holder, who kept his people closely to their work, and often 
went about himself to inspect his corn-rigs and meadow- 
land, the cattle, and also the smith-work, or whatsoever 
his people had on hand to do. 


It happened one day that King Sigurd wanted to ride 
from home, but there was nobody about the house ; so he 
told his step-son Olaf to saddle his horse. Olaf went to 
the goats' pen, took out the he-goat that was the largest, 
led him forth, and put the king's saddle on him, and then 
went in and told King Sigurd he had saddled his riding 
horse. Now when King Sigurd came out and saw what 
Olaf had done, he said, "It is easy to see that thou wilt 
little regard my orders ; and thy mother will think it right 
that I order thee to do nothing that is against thy own 
inclination. I see well enough that we are of different 
dispositions, and that thou art far more proud than I 
am." Olaf answered little, but went his way laughing. 


When Olaf Haraldson grew up he was not tall, but 
middle-sized in height, although very thick, and of good 
strength. He had light brown hair, and a broad face, 
which was white and red. He had particularly fine eyes, 
which were beautiful and piercing, so that one was afraid 
to look him in the face when he was angry. Olaf was 
very expert in all bodily exercises, understood well to 
handle his bow, and was distinguished particularly in 
throwing his spear by hand: he was a great swimmer, 
and very handy, and very exact and knowing in all kinds 



of smithwork, whether he himself or others made the 
thing. He was distinct and acute in conversation, and 
was soon perfect in understanding and strength. He 
was beloved by his friends and acquaintances, eager in his 
amusements, and one who always liked to be the first, 
as it was suitable he should be from his birth and dig- 
nity. He was called Olaf the Great. 


Olaf Haraldson was twelve years old when he, for the 
first time, went on board a ship of war (1007), His 
mother Asta got Hrane, who was called the foster-father 
of kings, to command a ship of war and take Olaf under 
his charge; for Hrane had often been on war expeditions. 
When Olaf in this way got a ship and men, the crew gave 
him the title of king; for it was the custom that those 
commanders of troops who were of kingly descent, on 
going out upon a viking cruise, received the title of king 
immediately, although they had no land or kingdom. 
Hrane sat at the helm; and some say that Olaf himself 
was but a common rower, although he was king of the 
men-at-arms. They steered east along the land, and came 
first to Denmark. So says Ottar Svarte, in his lay which 
he made about King Olaf : 

"Young was the king when from his Well exercised art thou in truth 

home In manhood's earnest work, brave 
He first began in ships to roam, youth ! 

His ocean-steed to ride Out from the distant north 

To Denmark o'er the tide. Mighty hast thou come forth." 

Towards autumn he sailed eastward to the Swedish 
dominions, and there harried and burnt all the country 
round; for he thought he had good cause of hostility 



against the Swedes, as they killed his father Harald. 
Ottar Svarte says distinctly that he came from the east, 
out by way of Denmark : 

"Thy ship from shore to shore, There's food for the raven-flight 

With many a well-plied oar, Where thy sail-winged ship shall 
Across the Baltic foam is dancing. light : 

Shields, and spears, and helms Thy landing-tread 

glancing ! The people dread ; 

Hoist high the swelling sail And the wolf howls for a feast 

To catch the freshening gale ! On the shore-side in the east." 


The same autumn Olaf had his first battle at Sotasker, 
which lies in the Swedish skerry circle. He fought there 
with some vikings, whose leader was Sote. Olaf had 
much fewer men, but his ships were larger, and he had 
his ships between some blind rocks, which made it diffi- 
cult for the vikings to get alongside; and Olaf s men threw 
grappling irons into the ships which came nearest, drew 
them up to their own vessels, and cleared them of men. 
The vikings took to flight after losing many men. Sigvat 
the skald tells of this fight in the lay in which he reckons 
up King Olaf 's battles : 

"They launch his ship where waves Where did the sea-king first draw 

are foaming blood? 

To the sea shore In the battle shock 

Bore mast and oar, At Sote's rock : 

And sent his o'er the seas a-roarning. The wolves howl over their fresh 



King Olaf steered thereafter eastwards to Svithjod, and 
into the Lag (the Mselar lake), and ravaged the land on 
both sides. He sailed all the way up to Sigtuna, and laid 
his ships close to the old Sigtuna. The Swedes say the 
stone-heaps are still to be seen which Olaf had laid under 

2 54 


the ends of the gangways from the shore to the ships. 
When autumn was advanced, Olaf Haraldson heard that 
Olaf the Swedish king was assembling an army, and also 
that he had laid iron chains across Stoksund (the channel 
between the Maelar lake and the sea), and had laid troops 
there; for the Swedish king thought that Olaf Harald- 
son would be kept in there till frost came, and he thought 
little of Olaf's force, knowing he had but few people. 
Now when King Olaf Haraldson came to Stoksund he 
could not get through, as there was a castle west of the 
sound, and men-at-arms lay on the south; and he heard 
that the Swedish king was come there with a great army 
and many ships. He therefore dug a canal across the 
flat land Agnafit out to the sea. Over all Svithjod all 
the running waters fall into the Maelar lake ; but the only 
outlet of it to the sea is so small that many rivers are 
wider, and when much rain or snow falls the water 
rushes in a great cataract out by Stoksund, and the lake 
rises high and floods the land. It fell heavy rain just at 
this time; and as the canal was dug out to the sea, the 
water and stream rushed into it. Then Olaf had all the 
rudders unshipped and hoisted all sail aloft. It was blow- 
ing a strong breeze astern, and they steered with their 
oars, and the ships came in a rush over all the shallows, 
and got into the sea without any damage. Now went 
the Swedes to their king, Olaf, and told him that Olaf 
the Great had slipped out to sea ; on which the king was 
enraged against those who should have watched that 
Olaf did not get away. This passage has since been 
called King's Sound; but large vessels cannot pass 



through it, unless the waters are very high. Some re- 
late that the Swedes were aware that Olaf had cut across 
the tongue of land, and that the water was falling out 
that way ; and they flocked to it with the intention to hin- 
der Olaf from getting away, but the water undermined 
the banks on each side so that they fell in with the peo- 
ple, and many were drowned : but the Swedes contradict 
this as a false report, and deny the loss of people. The 
king sailed to Gotland in harvest, and prepared to plun- 
der; but the Gotlanders assembled, and sent men to the 
king, offering him a scat. The king found this would 
suit him, and he received the scat, and remained there all 
winter. So says Ottar Svarte: 

"Thou seaman-prince ! thy men are The Yngling princes fled, 

paid : Eysyssel people bled : 

The scat on Gotlanders is laid ; Who can't defend the wealth they 

Young man or old have 

To our seamen bold Must die, or share with the rover 

Must pay, to save his head : brave." 


It is related here that King Olaf, when spring set in, 
sailed east to Eysyssel, and landed and plundered; the 
Eysyssel men came down to the strand and gave him 
battle. King Olaf gained the victory, pursued those who 
fled, and laid waste the land with fire and sword. It is 
told that when King Olaf first came to Eysyssel they of- 
fered him scat, and when the scat was to be brought 
down to the strand the king came to meet it with an 
armed force, and that was not what the bondes there 
expected; for they had brought no scat, but only their 
weapons with which they fought against the king, as be- 
fore related. So says Sigvat the skald : 



"With much deceit and bustle But Olaf was too wise 

To the heath of Bysyssel To be taken by surprise : 

The bondes brought the king, Their legs scarce bore them off 

To get scat at their weapon-thing. O'er the common fast enough." 


After this they sailed to Finland and plundered there, 
and went up the country. All the people fled to the for- 
est, and they had emptied their houses of all household 
goods. The king went far up the country, and through 
some woods, and came to some dwellings in a valley 
called Herdaler, where, however, they made but small 
booty, and saw no people ; and as it was getting late in the 
day, the king turned back to his ships. Now when they 
came into the woods again people rushed upon them from 
all quarters, and made a severe attack. The king told 
his men to cover themselves with their shields, but be- 
fore they got out of the woods he lost many people, and 
many were wounded; but at last, late in the evening, he 
got to the ships. The Finlanders conjured up in the 
night, by their witchcraft, a dreadful storm and bad 
weather on the sea ; but the king ordered the anchors to 
be weighed and sail hoisted, and beat off all night to 
the outside of the land. The king's luck prevailed more 
than the Finlanders' witchcraft; for he had the luck to 
beat round the Balagard's-side in the night, and so got 
out to sea. But the Finnish army proceeded on land, 
making the same progress as the king made with his 
ships. So says Sigvat : 

"The third fight was at Herdaler, Off Balagard's shore the waves 

where Ran hollow ; but the sea-king saves 

The men of Finland met in war His hard-pressed ship, and gains the 

The hero of the royal race, lee 

With ringing sword-blades face to Of the east coast through the wild 
face. sea." 



King Olaf sailed from thence to Denmark, where he 
met Thorkel the Tall, brother of Earl Sigvalde, and went 
into partnership with him; for he was just ready to set 
out on a cruise. They sailed southwards to the Jutland 
coast, to a place called Sudervik, where they overcame 
many viking ships. The vikings, who usually have many 
people to command, give themselves the title of kings, 
although they have no lands to rule over. King Olaf 
went into battle with them, and it was severe; but King 
Olaf gained the victory, and a great booty. So says 
Sigvat : 

"Hark ! hark ! The war-shout Great honour, I'm told, 

Through Sudervik rings, Won these vikings so bold : 

And the vikings bring out But their bold fight was vain, 

To fight the two kings. For the two brave kings gain." 


King Olaf sailed from thence south to Friesland, and 
lay under the strand of Kinlima in dreadful weather. 
The king landed with his men; but the people of the 
country rode down to the strand against them, and he 
fought them. So says Sigvat: 

"Under Kinlima's cliff, To the edge of the rippling tide : 

This battle is the fifth. But Olaf taught the peasant band 

The brave sea-rovers stand To know the weight of a viking's 
All on the glittering sand ; hand." 

And down the horsemen ride 


The king sailed from thence westward to England. 
It was then the case that the Danish king, Svein Forked 
Beard, was at that time in England with a Danish army, 
and had been fixed there for some time, and had seized 



upon King Ethelred's kingdom. The Danes had spread 
themselves so widely over England, that it was come so 
far that King Ethelred had departed from the country, 
and had gone south to Valland. The same autumn that 
King Olaf came to England, it happened that King Svein 
died suddenly in the night in his bed; and it is said by 
Englishmen that Edmund the Saint killed him, in the 
same way that the holy Mercurius had killed the apos- 
tate Julian. When Ethelred, the king of the English, 
heard this in Flanders, he returned directly to England; 
and no sooner was he come back, than he sent an invi- 
tation to all the men who would enter into his pay, to 
join him in recovering the country. Then many people 
flocked to him ; and among others, came King Olaf with 
a great troop of Northmen to his aid. They steered 
first to London, and sailed into the Thames with their 
fleet; but the Danes had a castle within. On the other 
side of the river is a great trading place, which is called 
Sudvirke. There the Danes had raised a great work, 
dug large ditches, and within had built a bulwark of 
stone, timber, and turf, where they had stationed a strong 
army. King Ethelred ordered a great assault; but the 
Danes defended themselves bravely, and King Ethelred 
could make nothing of it. Between the castle and 
Southwark (Sudvirke) there was a bridge, so broad that 
two waggons could pass each other upon it. On the 
bridge were raised barricades, both towers and wooden 
parapets, in the direction of the river, which were nearly 
breast high ; and under the bridge were piles driven into 
the bottom of the river. Now when the attack was made 



the troops stood on the bridge everywhere, and defended 
themselves. King Ethelred was very anxious to get pos- 
session of the bridge, and he called together all the chiefs 
to consult how they should get the bridge broken down. 
Then said King Olaf he would attempt to lay his fleet 
alongside of it, if the other ships would do the same. 
It was then determined in this council that they should 
lay their war forces under the bridge; and each made 
himself ready with ships and men. 


King Olaf ordered great platforms of floating wood to 
be tied together with hazel bands, and for this he took 
down old houses; and with these, as a roof, he covered 
over his ships so widely, that it reached over the ships' 
sides. Under this screen he set pillars so high and stout, 
that there both was room for swinging their swords, and 
the roofs were strong enough to withstand the stones cast 
down upon them. Now when the fleet and men were 
ready, they rode up along the river; but when they came 
near the bridge, there were cast down upon them so many 
stones and missile weapons, such as arrows and spears, 
that neither helmet nor shield could hold out against it; 
and the ships themselves were so greatly damaged, that 
many retreated out of it. But King Olaf, and the North- 
men's fleet with him, rowed quite up under the bridge, 
laid their cables around the piles which supported it, and 
then rowed off with all the ships as hard as they could 
down the stream. The piles were thus shaken in the bot- 
tom, and were loosened under the bridge. Now as the 



armed troops stood thick of men upon the bridge, and 
there were likewise many heaps of stones and other weap- 
ons upon it, and the piles under it being loosened and 
broken, the bridge gave way ; and a great part of the men 
upon it fell into the river, and all the others fled, some 
into the castle, some into Southwark. Thereafter South- 
wark was stormed and taken. Now when the people in 
the castle saw that the river Thames was mastered, and 
that they could not hinder the passage of ships up into 
the country, they became afraid, surrendered the tower, 
and took Ethelred to be their king. So says Ottar 
Svarte : 

"London Bridge is broken down, Hild is shouting in the din ! 

Gold is won, and bright renown. Arrows singing, 

Shields resounding, Mail-coats ringing 

War-horns sounding, Odin makes our Olaf win !" 

And he also composed these : 

"King Ethelred has found a friend : With blood-red hand, 

Brave Olaf will his throne defend And Edmund's son upon his throne 

In bloody fight replace 

Maintain his right, Edmund, the star of every royal 

Win back his land race !" 

Sigvat also relates as follows: 

"At London Bridge stout Olaf gave Some in their tents on Southwark 

Odin's law to his war-men brave plain ! 

'To win or die!' This sixth attack 

And their foemen fly. Brought victory back.- 

Some by the dyke-side refuge gain 


King Olaf passed all the winter with King Ethelred, 
and had a great battle at Hringmara Heath in Ulfkel's 
land, the domain which Ulf kel Snilling at that time held ; 
and here again the king was victorious. So says Sigvat 
the skald : 



"To Ulfkel's land came Olaf bold, Hringmara heath 

A seventh sword -thing he would hold. Was a bed of death : 

The race of Ella filled the plain Harfager's heir 

Few of them slept at home again! Dealt slaughter there." 

And Ottar sings of this battle thus : 

"Prom Hringmara field The living fly ; 

The chime of war, The dead piled high 

Sword striking shield, The moor enrich : 

Rings from afar. Red runs the ditch." 

The country far around was then brought in subjec- 
tion to King Ethelred; but the Thingmen 1 and the 
Danes held many castles, besides a great part of the 


King Olaf was commander of all the forces when they 
went against Canterbury; and they fought there until 
they took the town, killing many people and burning the 
castle. So says Ottar Svarte: 

"All in the grey of morn And many a man laid low 

Broad Canterbury's forced. By the battle-axe's blow, 

Black smoke from house-roofs borne Waked by the Norsemen's cries, 

Hides fire that does its worst ; Scarce had time to rub his eyes." 

Sigvat reckons this King Olafs eighth battle: 

"Of this eighth battle I can tell The Perthmen fought, 

How it was fought, and what befell. Nor quarter sought ; 

The castle tower By death or flight 

With all his power They left the fight. 

He could not take, Olaf could not this earl stout 

Nor would forsake. From Canterbury quite drive out." 

At this time King Olaf was entrusted with the whole 
land defence of England, and he sailed round the land 
with his ships of war. He laid his ships at land at 
Nyjamoda, where the troops of the Thingmen were, and 

VThing-men were hired men-at-arms ; called Thing-men probably from 
being men above the class of thralls or unfree men, and entitled to appear 
at Things, as being udal-born to laud at home. 



gave them battle and gained the victory. So says Sigvat 
the skald: 

"The youthful king stained red the Where the shrill storm round Olaf's 

hair head 

Of Angeln men, and dyed his spear Of spear and arrow thickest fled, 

At Newport in their hearts' dark There thickest lay the Thingmen 

blood ; dead ! 

And where the Danes the thickest Nine battles now of Olaf bold. 

stood Battle by battle, I have told." 

King Olaf then scoured all over the country, taking 
scat of the people, and plundering where it was refused. 
So says Ottar : 

"The English race could not resist Money, if money could be got 

thee, Goods, cattle, household gear, if not. 

With money thou madest them as- Thy gathered spoil, borne to the 
sist thee ; strand, 

Unsparingly thou madest them pay Was the best wealth of English 

A scat to thee in every way ; land." 

Olaf remained here for three years (1010-1012). 


The third year King Ethelred died, and his sons Ed- 
mund and Edward took the government (1012). Then 
Olaf sailed southwards out to sea, and had a battle at 
Hringsf jord, and took a castle situated at Holar, where 
vikings resorted, and burnt the castle. So says Sigvat 
the skald: 

"Of the tenth battle now I tell, And razed the tower of the viking 
Where it was fought, and what be- thief. 

fell. Such rock and tower, such roosting- 
Up on the hill in Hringsfjord fair place, 

A robber nest hung in the air : Was ne'er since held by the roving 
The people followed our brave chief, race." 


Then King Olaf proceeded westwards to Grislupollar, 
and fought there with vikings at Williamsby; and there 
also King Olaf gained the victory. So says Sigvat : 



"The eleventh battle now I tell. But Olaf's name, and arm, and 
Where it was fought, and what be- sword. 

fell. Of three great earls, I have heard 
At Grislupol our young fir's name say, 

O'ertopped the forest trees in fame : His sword crushed helm and head 
Brave Olaf's name nought else was that day." 


Next he fought westward on Fetlafjord, as Sigvat 

"The twelfth fight was at Fetlafjord, Gave the wild wolf's devouring teeth 
Where Olaf's honour-seeking sword A feast of warriors doomed to death." 

From thence King Olaf sailed southwards to Selju- 
pollar, where he had a battle. He took there a castle 
called Gunvaldsborg, which was very large and old. He 
also made prisoner the earl who ruled over the castle, 
and who was called Geirfin. After a conference witH 
the men of the castle, he laid a scat upon the town and 
earl, as ransom, of twelve thousand gold shillings ; which 
was also paid by those on whom it was imposed. So 
says Sigvat: 

"The thirteenth battle now I tell, The king went early to the shore, 

Where it was fought, and what be- To Gunvaldsborg's old castle-tower ; 

fell. And a rich earl was taken there, 

In Seljupol was fought the fray, Whose name was Geirfin, I am sure." 
And many did not survive the day. 


Thereafter King Olaf steered with his fleet westward 
to Karlsar, and tarried there and had a fight. And 
while King Olaf was lying in Karlsa river waiting a 
wind, and intending to sail up to Norvasund, and then on 
to the land of Jerusalem, he dreamt a remarkable dream- 
that there came to him a great and important man, but of 
a terrible appearance withal, who spoke to him, and told 
him to give up his purpose of proceeding to that land. 
"Return back to thy udal, for thou shalt be king over 



Norway for ever." He interpreted this dream to mean 
that he should be king over the country, and his posterity 
after him for a long time. 


After this appearance to him he turned about, and 
came to Poitou, where he plundered and burnt a mer- 
chant town called Varrande. Of this Ottar speaks: 

"Our young king, blythe and gay, He fights and wins where'er he 

Is foremost in the fray : turns." 

Poitou he plunders, Tuskland 

And also Sigvat says : 

"The Norsemen's king is on his The Norsemen's king is up the Loire : 
cruise, Rich Parthenay 

His blue steel staining, In ashes lay ; 

Rich booty gaining, Far inland reached the Norsemen's 
And all men trembling at the news. spear." 


King Olaf had been two summers and one winter in the 
west in Valland on this cruise; and thirteen years had 
now passed since the fall of King Olaf Trygvason. Dur- 
ing this time earls had ruled over Norway ; first Hakon's 
sons Eirik and Svein, and afterwards Eirik's sons 
Hakon and Svein. Hakon was a sister's son of King 
Canute, the son of Svein. During this time there were 
two earls in Valland, William and Robert; their father 
was Richard earl of Rouen. They ruled over Nor- 
mandy. Their sister was Queen Emma, whom the 
English king Ethelred had married; and their sons were 
Edmund, Edward the Good, Edwy, and Edgar. Rich- 
ard the earl of Rouen was a son of Richard the son of 
William Long Spear, who was the son of Rolf Ganger, 



the earl who first conquered Normandy; and he again 
was a son of Ragnvald the Mighty, earl of More, as be- 
fore related. From Rolf Ganger are descended the earls 
of Rouen, who have long reckoned themselves of kin to 
the chiefs in Norway, and hold them in such respect that 
they always were the greatest friends of the Northmen; 
and every Northman found a friendly country in Nor- 
mandy, if he required it. To Normandy King Olaf came 
in autumn (1013), and remained all winter (1014) in 
the river Seine in good peace and quiet. 


After Olaf Trygvason's fall, Earl Eirik gave peace to 
Einar Tambaskelfer, the son of Eindride Styrkarson ; and 
Einar went north with the earl to Norway. It is said 
that Einar was the strongest man and the best archer 
that ever was in Norway. His shooting was sharp be- 
yond all others ; for with a blunt arrow he shot through a 
raw, soft ox-hide, hanging over a beam. He was bet- 
ter than any man at running on snow-shoes, was a great 
man at all exercises, was of high family, and rich. The 
earls Eirik and Svein married their sister Bergliot to 
Einar. Their son was named Eindride. The earls gave 
Einar great fiefs in Orkadal, so that he was one of the 
most powerful and able men in the Throndhjem country, 
and was also a great friend of the earls, and a great sup- 
port and aid to them. 


When Olaf Trygvason ruled over Norway, he gave 



his brother-in-law Erling half of the land scat, and royal 
revenues between the Naze and Sogn. His other sister 
he married to the Earl Ragnvald Ulfson, who long ruled 
over West Gautland. Ragnvald's father, Ulf, was a 
brother of Sigrid the Haughty, the mother of Olaf the 
Swedish king. Earl Eirik was ill pleased that Erling 
Skialgson had so large a dominion, and he took to him- 
self all the king's estates, which King Olaf had given 
to Erling. But Erling levied, as before, all the land scat 
in Rogaland; and thus the inhabitants had often to pay 
him the land scat, otherwise he laid waste their land. The 
earl made little of the business, for no bailiff of his could 
live there, and the earl could only come there in guest- 
quarters, when he had a great many people with him. So 
says Sigvat: 

"Olaf the king One sister the king 

Thought the bonde Erling Gave the bonde Erling ; 

A man who would grace And one to an earl, 

His own royal race. And she saved him in peril." 

Earl Eirik did not venture to fight with Erling, be- 
cause he had very powerful and very many friends, and 
was himself rich and popular, and kept always as many 
retainers about him as if he held a king's court. Erling 
was often out in summer on plundering expeditions, and 
procured for himself means of living; for he continued 
his usual way of high and splendid living, although now 
he had fewer and less convenient fiefs than in the time of 
his brother-in-law King Olaf Trygvason. Erling was 
one of the handsomest, largest, and strongest men; a 
better warrior than any other ; and in all exercises he was 
like King Olaf himself. He was, besides, a man of un- 



derstanding, jealous in everything he undertook, and 
a deadly man at arms. Sigvat talks thus of him: 

"No earl or baron, young or old, His courage he kept hid until 

Match with this bonde brave can The fight began, then foremost still 

hold. Erling was seen in war's wild game, 

Mild was brave Erling, all men say, And famous still is Erling's name." 
When not engaged in bloody fray ; 

It was a common saying among the people, that Erling 
had been the most valiant who ever held lands under a 
king in Norway. Erling's and Astrid's children were 
these Aslak, Skialg, Sigurd, Lodin, Thorer, and Ragn- 
hild, who was married to Thorberg Arnason. Erling 
had always with him ninety free-born men or more; and 
both winter and summer it was the custom in his house 
to drink at the mid-day meal according to a measure, 1 but 
at the night meal there was no measure in drinking. 
When the earl was in the neighbourhood he had 200 2 men 
or more. He never went to sea with less than a fully- 
manned ship of twenty benches of rowers. Erling had 
also a ship of thirty-two benches of rowers, which was 
besides, very large for that size, and which he used in 
viking cruises, or on an expedition ; and in it there were 
200 men at the very least. 


Erling had always at home on his farm thirty slaves, 
besides other serving-people. He gave his slaves a cer- 
tain day's work; but after it he gave them leisure, and 
leave that each should work in the twilight and at night 
for himself, and as he pleased. He gave them arable 

1 There were silver-studs in a row from the rim to the bottom of the 
drinking horn or cup ; and as it went round each drank till the stud 
appeared above the liquor. This was drinking by measure. L. 
2 240. 



land to sow corn in, and let them apply their crops to 
their own use. He laid upon each a certain quantity of 
labour to work themselves free by doing it; and there 
were many who bought their freedom- in this way in one 
year, or in the second year, and all who had any luck 
could make themselves free within three years. With 
this money he bought other slaves; and to' some of his 
freed people he showed how to work in the herring-fishery, 
to others he showed some useful handicraft; and some 
cleared his outfields and set up houses. He helped all to 


When Earl Eirik had ruled over Norway for twelve 
years, there came a message to him from his brother-in- 
law King Canute, the Danish king, that he should go 
with him on an expedition westward to England; for 
Eirik was very celebrated for his campaigns, as he had 
gained the victory in the two hardest engagements which 
had ever been fought in the north countries. The one 
was that in which the Earls Hakon and Eirik fought with 
the Jomsborg vikings ; the other that in which Earl Eirik 
fought with King Olaf Trygvason. Thord Kolbeinson 
speaks of this: 

"A song of praise That Knut the Brave 

Again I raise. His aid would crave : 

To the earl bold The earl, I knew, 

The word is told, To friend stands true." 

The earl would not sleep upon the message of the king, 
but sailed immediately out of the country, leaving behind 
his son Earl Hakon to take care of Norway ; and, as he 



was but seventeen years of age, Einar Tambaskelfer was 
to be at his hand to rule the country for him. 

Eirik met King Canute in England, and was with him 
when he took the castle of London. Earl Eirik had a 
battle also to the westward of the castle of London, and 
killed Ulfkel Snilling. So says Thord Kolbeinson : 

"West of London town we passed, Laid Ulfkel's dead corpse there. 

And our ocean-steeds made fast, Our Thingmen hear the war-shower 
And a bloody fight begin, sounding 

England's lands to lose or win. Our grey arrows from their shields 
Blue sword and shining spear rebounding." 

Earl Eirik was a winter in England, and had many 
battles there. The following autumn he intended to make 
a pilgrimage to Rome, but he died in England of a bloody 


King Canute came to England the summer that King 
Ethelred died, and had many battles with Ethelred's sons, 
in which the victory was sometimes on one side, some- 
times on the other. Then King Canute took Queen 
Emma in marriage; and their children were Harald, 
Hardacanute, and Gunhild. King Canute then made an 
agreement with King Edmund, that each of them should 
have a half of England. In the same month Henry 
Strion murdered King Edmund. King Canute then drove 
all Ethelred's sons out of England. So says Sigvat : 

"Now all the sons of Ethelred Some slain by Canute, some, they 

Were either fallen, or had fled : say, 

To save their lives had run away." 


King Ethelred's sons came to Rouen in Valland from 
England, to their mother's brother, the same summer that 



King Olaf Haraldson came from the west from his viking 
cruise, and they were all during the winter in Normandy 
together. They made an agreement with each other that 
King Olaf should have Northumberland, if they could 
succeed in taking England from the Danes. Therefore 
about harvest, Olaf sent his foster-father Hrane to 
England to collect men-at-arms ; and Ethelred's sons sent 
tokens to their friends and relations with him. King 
Olaf, besides, gave him much money with him to attract 
people to them. Hrane was all winter in England, and 
got promises from many powerful men of fidelity, as the 
people of the country would rather have native kings over 
them; but the Danish power had become so great in 
England, that all the people were brought under their 


In spring (1014) King Olaf and King Ethelred's sons 
set out together to the west, and came to a place in Eng- 
land called Jungufurda, where they landed with their 
army and moved forward against the castle. Many men 
were there who had promised them their aid. They took 
the castle; and killed many people. Now when King Ca- 
nute's men heard of this they assembled an army, and 
were soon in such force that Ethelred's sons could not 
stand against it; and they saw no other way left but to 
return to Rouen. Then King Olaf separated from them, 
and would not go back to Valland, but sailed northwards 
along England, all the way to Northumberland, where 
he put into a haven at a place called Valde; and in a 



battle there with the townspeople and merchants he gained 
the victory, and a great booty 


King Olaf left his long-ships there behind, but made 
ready two ships of burden; and had with him 220 men 
in them, well-armed, and chosen people. He sailed out to 
sea northwards in harvest, but encountered a tremendous 
storm, and they were in danger of being lost ; but as they 
had a chosen crew, and the king's luck with them, all 
went on well. So says Ottar : v 

"Olaf, great stem of kings, is brave- Uudaunted, 'midst the roaring flood, 

Bold in the fight, bold on the wave. Firm at his post each shipman Stood ; 
No thought of fear And thy two ships stout 

Thy heart comes near. The gale stood out." 

And further he says : 

"Thou able chief ! with they fearless Though waves mast-high were 

crew breaking round, 

Thou meetest, with skill and courage Thou findest the middle of Norway's 

true, ground, 

The wild sea's wrath With helm in hand 

On thy ocean path. On Ssela's strand." 

It is related here that King Olaf came from the sea to 
the very middle of Norway; and the isle is called Ssela 
where they landed, and is outside of Stad. King Olaf said 
he thought it must be a lucky day for them, since they had 
landed at Ssela in Norway; and observed it was a good 
omen that it so happened. As they were going up in the 
isle, the king slipped with one foot in a place where there 
was clay, but supported himself with the other foot. Then 
said he "The king falls/' "Nay," replies Hrane, "thou 
didst not fall, king, but set fast foot in the soil." The 
king laughed thereat, and said, "It may be so if God 



will." They went down again thereafter to their ships, 
and sailed to Ulfasund, where they heard that Earl Hakon 
was south in Sogn, and was expected north as soon as 
wind allowed with a single ship. 


King Olaf steered his ships within the ordinary ships' 
course when he came abreast of Fjaler district, and ran 
into Saudungssund. There he laid his two vessels one on 
each side of the sound, with a thick cable between them. 
At the same moment Hakon, Earl Eirik's son, came row- 
ing into the sound with a manned ship; and as they 
thought these were but two merchant-vessels that were 
lying in the sound, they rowed between them. Then Olaf 
and his men draw the cable up right under Hakon's ship's 
keel, and wind it up with the capstan. As soon as the 
vessel's course was stopped her stern was lifted up, and 
her bow plunged down ; so that the water came in at her 
fore-end and over both sides, and she upset. King Olaf 's 
people took Earl Hakon and all his men whom they could 
get hold of out of the water, and made them prisoners; 
but some they killed with stones and other weapons, and 
some were drowned. So says Ottar: 

"The black ravens wade His ship, with its gear, 

In the blood from thy blade. Thou hast ta'en ; and art here, 

Young Hakon so gay, Thy forefathers' land 

With his ship, is thy prey: From the earl to demand." 

Earl Hakon was led up to the king's ship. He was 
the handsomest man that could be seen. He had long 
hair, as fine as silk, bound about his bead with a gold 



Whet* he sat down in the fore-hold, the king said to 
him, "It is not false what is said of your family, that ye 
are handsome people to look at; but now your luck has 
deserted you." 

Hakon the earl replied, "It has always been the case 
that success is changeable; and there is no luck in the 
matter. It has gone with your family as with mine, to 
have by turns the better lot. I am little beyond childhood 
in years ; and at any rate we could not have defended our- 
selves, as we did not expect any attack on the way. It 
may turn out better with us another time.'* 

Then said King Olaf, "Dost thou not apprehend that 
thou art in that condition that, hereafter, there can b? 
neither victory nor defeat for thee?" 

The earl replies, "That is what thou only canst deter- 
mine, king, according to thy pleasure." 

Olaf says, "What wilt thou give me, earl, if for this 
time I let thee go, whole and unhurt?" 

The earl asks what he would take. 

"Nothing," says the king, "except that thou shalt leave 
the country, give up thy kingdom, and take an oath that 
thou shalt never go into battle against me." 

The earl answered, that he would do so. And now 
Earl Hakon took the oath that he would never fight 
against Olaf, or seek to defend Norway against him, or 
attack him ; and King Olaf thereupon gave him and all his 
men life and peace. The earl got back the ship which 
had brought him there, and he and his men rowed their 
way. Thus says Sigvat of him : 



"In old Saudungs sound The best and fairest youth 

The king Earl Hakon found, Earl Hakon was in truth, 

Who little thought that there That speaks the Danish tongue, 

A foeman was so near. And of the race of great Hakon." 


After this (1014) the earl made ready as fast as pos- 
sible to leave the country and sail over to England. He 
met King Canute, his mother's brother, there, and told 
him all that had taken place between him and King Olaf. 
King Canute received him remarkably well, placed him in 
his court in his own house, and gave him great power in 
his kingdom. Earl Hakon dwelt a long time with King 
Canute. During the time Svein and Hakon ruled over 
Norway, a reconciliation with Erling Skialgson was 
effected, and secured by Aslak, Erling's son, marrying 
Gunhild, Earl Svein's daughter; and the father and son, 
Erling and Aslak, retained all the fiefs which King Olaf 
Trygvason had given to Erling. Thus Erling became a 
firm friend of the earl's, and their mutual friendship was 
confirmed by oath. 


King Olaf went now eastward along the land, holding 
Things with the bondes all over the country. Many went 
willingly with him; but some, who were Earl Svein's 
friends or relations, spoke against him. Therefore King 
Olaf sailed in all haste eastward to Viken ; went in there 
with his ships ; set them on the land ; and proceeded up the 
country, in order to meet his stepfather, Sigurd Syr. 
When he came to Vestfold he was received in a friendly 



way by many who had been his father's friends or 
acquaintances; and also there and in Folden were many 
of his family. In autumn (1014) he proceeded up the 
country to his stepfather King Sigurd's, and came there 
one day very early. As Olaf was coming near to the 
house, some of the servants ran beforehand to the house, 
and into the room. Olaf's mother, Asta, was sitting in 
the room, and around her some of her girls. When the 
servants told her of King Olaf's approach, and that he 
might soon be expected, Asta stood up directly, and 
ordered the men and girls to put everything in the best 
order. She ordered four girls to bring out all that 
belonged to the decoration of the room, and put it in order 
with hangings and benches. Two fellows brought straw 
for the floor, two brought forward four-cornered tables 
and the drinking-jugs, two bore out victuals and placed 
the meat on the table, two she sent away from the house 
to procure in the greatest haste all that was needed, and 
two carried in the ale ; and all the other serving men and 
girls went outside of the house. Messengers went to seek 
King Sigurd wherever he might be, and brought to him 
his dress-clothes, and his horse with gilt saddle, and his 
bridle, which was gilt and set with precious stones. Four 
men she sent off to the four quarters of the country to 
invite all the great people to a feast, which she prepared 
as a rejoicing for her son's return. All who were before 
in the house she made to dress themselves with the best 
they had, and lent clothes to those who had none suit- 




King Sigurd Syr was standing in his corn-field when 
the messengers came to him and brought him the news, 
and also told him all that Asta was doing at home in the 
house. He had many people on his farm. Some were then 
shearing corn, some bound it together, some drove it to 
the building, some unloaded it and put it in stack or barn ; 
but the king, and two men with him, went sometimes into 
the field, sometimes to the place where the corn was put 
into the barn. His dress, it is told, was this : he had a 
blue kirtle and blue breeches ; shoes which were laced about 
the legs; a grey cloak, and a grey wide-brimmed hat; a 
veil before his face; a staff in his hand with a gilt-silver 
head on it, and a silver ring around it. Of Sigurd's living 
and disposition it is related that he was a very gain- 
making man, who attended carefully to his cattle and 
husbandry, and managed his housekeeping himself. He 
was nowise given to pomp, and was rather taciturn. But 
he was a man of the best understanding in Norway, and 
also excessively wealthy in movable property. Peaceful 
he was, and nowise haughty. His wife Asta was gen- 
erous and high-minded. Their children were, Guthorm, 
the eldest ; then Gunhild ; the next Halfdan, Ingerid, and 
Harald. The messengers said to Sigurd, "Asta told us 
to bring thee word how much it lay at her heart that thou 
shouldst on this occasion comport thyself in the fashion 
of great men, and show a disposition more akin to Harald 
Harfager's race than to thy mother's father's, Hrane 
Thin-nose, or Earl Nereid the Old, although they too 



were very wise men." The king replies, "The news ye 
bring me is weighty, and ye bring it forward in great 
heat. Already before now Asta has been taken up much 
with people who were not so near to her; and I see she 
is still of the same disposition. She takes this up with 
great warmth; but can she lead her son out of the busi- 
ness with the same splendour she is leading him into it? 
If it is to proceed so, methinks they who mix themselves 
up in it regard little property or life. For this man, King 
Olaf, goes against a great superiority of power; and the 
wrath of the Danish and Swedish kings lies at the foot of 
his determination, if he ventures to go against them." 


When the king had said this he sat down, and made 
them take off his shoes, and put corduvan boots on, to 
which he bound his gold spurs. Then he put off his cloak 
and coat, and dressed himself in his finest clothes, with a 
scarlet cloak over all; girded on his sword, set a gilded 
helmet upon his head, and mounted his horse. He sent 
his labouring people out to the neighbourhood, and gath- 
ered to him thirty well-clothed men, and rode home with 
them. As they rode up to the house, and were near the 
room, they saw on the other side of the house the banners 
of Olaf coming waving; and there was he himself, with 
about 100 men all well equipped. People were gathered 
over all upon the house-tops. King Sigurd immediately 
saluted his stepson from horseback in a friendly way, and 
invited him and his men to come in and drink a cup with 
him. Asta, on the contrary, went up and kissed her son, 


and invited him to stay with her ; and land, and people, and 
all the good she could do for him stood at his service. 
King Olaf thanked her kindly for her invitation. 
Then she took him by the hand, and led him into the 
room to the high-seat. King Sigurd got men to take 
charge of their clothes, and give their horses corn; and 
then he himself went to his high-seat, and the feast was 
made with the greatest splendour. 


King Olaf had not been long here before he one day 
called his stepfather King Sigurd, his mother Asta, and 
his foster-father Hrane to a conference and consultation. 
Olaf began thus : "It has so happened," said he, "as is 
well known to you, that I have returned to this country 
after a very long sojourn in foreign parts, during all 
which time I and my men have had nothing for our sup- 
port but what we captured in war, for which we have 
often hazarded both life and soul ; for many an innocent 
man have we deprived of his property, and some of their 
lives; and foreigners are now sitting in the possessions 
which my father, his father, and their forefathers for a 
long series of generations owned, and to which I have 
udal right. They have not been content with this, but 
have taken to themselves also the properties of all our 
relations who are descended from Harald Harfager. To 
some they have left little, to others nothing at all. Now 
I will disclose to you what I have long concealed in my 
own mind, that I intend to take the heritage of my fore- 
fathers ; but I will not wait upon the Danish or Swedish 
19 279 


king to supplicate the least thing from them, although 
they for the time call that their property which was 
Harald Harfager's heritage. To say the truth, I intend 
rather to seek my patrimony with battle-axe and sword, 
and that with the help of all my friends and relations, and 
of those who in this business will take my side. And in 
this matter I will so lay hand to the work that one of two 
things shall happen, either I shall lay all this kingdom 
under my rule which they got into their hands by the 
slaughter of my kinsman Olaf Trygvason, or I shall fall 
here upon my inheritance in the land of my fathers. Now 
I expect of thee, Sigurd, my stepfather, as well as other 
men here in the country who have udal right of succes- 
sion to the kingdom, according to the law made by King 
Harald Harfager, that nothing shall be of such impor- 
tance to you as to prevent you from throwing off the dis- 
grace from our family of being slow at supporting the 
man who comes forward to raise up again our race. But 
whether ye show any manhood in this affair or not, I 
know the inclination of the people well, that all want to 
be free from the slavery of foreign masters, and will give 
aid and strength to the attempt. I have not proposed 
this matter to any before thee, because I know thou art a 
man of understanding, and can best judge how this my 
purpose shall be brought forward in the beginning, and 
whether we shall, in all quietness, talk about it to a few 
persons, or instantly declare it to the people at large. I 
have already shown my teeth by taking prisoner the Earl 
Hakon, who has now left the country, and given me, under 
oath, the part of the kingdom which he had before ; and I 



think it will be easier to have Earl Svein alone to deal 
with, than if both were defending the country against us." 
King Sigurd answers, "It is no small affair, King Olaf, 
thou hast in thy mind; and thy purpose comes more, 
methinks, from 1 hasty pride than from prudence. But it 
may be there is a wide difference between my humble 
ways and the high thoughts thou hast; for whilst yet in 
thy childhood thou wast full always of ambition and 
desire of command, and now thou art experienced in 
battles, and hast formed thyself upon the manner of 
foreign chiefs. I know therefore well, that as thou hast 
taken this into thy head, it is useless to dissuade thee 
from it ; and also it is not to be denied that it goes to the 
heart of all who have courage in them, that the whole 
Harfager race and kingdom should go to the ground. But 
I will not bind myself by any promise, before I know the 
views and intentions of other Upland kings; but thou 
hast done well in letting me know thy purpose, before 
declaring it publicly to the people. I will promise thee, 
however, my interest with the kings, and other chiefs, and 
country people; and also, King Olaf, all my property 
stands to thy aid, and to strengthen thee. But we will 
only produce the matter to the community so soon as we 
see some progress, and expect some strength to this 
undertaking; for thou canst easily perceive that it is a 
daring measure to enter into strife with Olaf the Swedish 
king, and Canute, who is king both of Denmark and 
England ; and thou requirest great support under thee, if 
it is to succeed. It is not unlikely, in my opinion, that 
thou wilt get good support from the people, as the com- 



monalty always loves what is new ; and it went so before, 
when Olaf Trygvason came here to the country, that all 
rejoiced at it, although he did not long enjoy the king- 

When the consultation had proceeded so far, Asta took 
up the word. "For my part, my son, I am rejoiced at thy 
arrival, but much more at thy advancing thy honour. I 
will spare nothing for that purpose that stands in my 
power, although it be but little help that can be expected 
from me. But if a choice could be made, I would rather 
that thou shouldst be the supreme king of Norway, even 
if thou shouldst not sit longer in thy kingdom than Olaf 
Trygvason did, than that thou shouldst not be a greater 
king than Sigurd Syr is, and die the death of old age/' 
With this the conference closed. King Olaf remained 
here a while with all his men. King Sigurd entertained 
them, day about, the one day with fish and milk, the other 
clay with flesh-meat and ale. 


At that time there were many kings in the Uplands who 
had districts to rule over, and the most of them were 
descended from Harald Harfager. In Hedemark two 
brothers ruled Hrorek and Ring; in Gudbrandsdal, 
Gudrod: and there was also a king in Raumarike; and 
one had Hadaland and Thoten ; and in Valders also there 
was a king. With these district-kings Sigurd had a 
meeting up in Hadaland, and Olaf Haraldson also met 
with them. To these district-kings whom Sigurd had 
assembled he set forth his stepson Olaf s purpose, and 



asked their aid, both of men and in counsel and consent ; 
and represented to them how necessary it was to cast off 
the yoke which the Danes and Swedes had laid upon them. 
He said that there was now a man before them who could 
head such an enterprise; and he recounted the many 
brave actions which Olaf had achieved upon his war- 

Then King Hrorek says, "True it is that Harald 
Harfager's kingdom has gone to decay, none of his race 
being supreme king over Norway. But the people here 
in the country have experienced many things. When 
King Hakon, Athelstan's foster-son, was king, all were 
content ; but when Gunhild's sons ruled over the country, 
all were so weary of their tyranny and injustice that they 
would rather have foreign men as kings, and be them- 
selves more their own rulers ; for the foreign kings were 
usually abroad, and cared little about the customs of the 
people if the scat they laid on the country was paid. 
When enmity arose between the Danish King Harald and 
Earl Hakon, the Jomsborg vikings made an expedition 
against Norway ; then the whole people arose, and threw 
the hostilities from themselves ; and thereafter the people 
encouraged Earl Hakon to keep the country, and defend 
it with sword and spear against the Danish king. But 
when he had set himself fast in the kingdom with the help 
of the people, he became so hard and overbearing towards 
the country-folks, that they would no longer suffer him. 
The Throndhjem people killed him, and raised to the 
kingly power Olaf Trygvason, who was of the udal suc- 
cession to the kingdom, and in all respects well fitted to 



be a chief. The whole country's desire was to make him 
supreme king, and raise again the kingdom which Harald 
Harfager had made for himself. But when King Olaf 
thought himself quite firmly seated in his kingdom, no 
man could rule his own concerns for him;. With us small 
kings he was so unreasonable, as to take to himself not 
only all the scat and duties which Harald Harfager had 
levied from us, but a great deal more. The people at last 
had so little freedom under him, that it was not allowed 
to every man to believe in what god he pleased. Now 
since he has been taken away we have kept friendly with 
the Danish king ; have received great help from him when 
we have had any occasion for it ; and have been allowed to 
rule ourselves, and live in peace and quiet in the inland 
country, and without any overburden. I am therefore 
content that things be as they are, for I do not see what 
better rights I am to enjoy by one of my relations ruling 
over the country; and if I am to be no better off, I will 
take no part in the affair." 

Then said King Ring, his brother, "I will also declare 
my opinion that it is better for me ? if I hold the same 
power and property as now, that my relative is king over 
Norway, rather than a foreign chief, so that our family 
may again raise its head in the land. It is, besides, my 
opinion about this man Olaf, that his fate and luck must 
determine whether he is to obtain the kingdom or not! 
and if he succeed in making himself supreme king, then 
he will be the best off who has best deserved his friend- 
ship. At present he has in no respect greater power than 
any of us ; nay, indeed, he has less ; as we have lands and 



kingdoms to rule over, and he has nothing, and we are 
equally entitled by the udal right to the kingdom as he is 
himself. Now, if we will be his men, give him our aid, 
allow him to take the highest dignity in the country, and 
stand by him with our strength, how should he not reward 
us well, and hold it in remembrance to our great advan- 
tage, if he be the honourable man I believe him to be, and 
all say he is ? Therefore let us join the adventure, say I, 
and bind ourselves in friendship with him." 

Then the others, one after the other, stood up and 
spoke; and the conclusion was, that the most of them 
determined to enter into a league with King Olaf. He 
promised them his perfect friendship, and that he would 
hold by and improve the country's laws and rights, if he 
became supreme king of Norway. This league was con- 
firmed by oath. 


Thereafter the kings summoned a Thing, and there 
King Olaf set forth this determination to all the people, 
and his demand on the kingly power. He desires that 
the bondes should receive him as king; and promises, on 
the other hand, to allow them to retain their ancient laws, 
and to defend the land from foreign masters and chiefs. 
On this point he spoke well, and long; and he got great 
praise for his speech. Then the kings rose and spoke, the 
one after the other, and supported his cause, and this 
message to the people. At last it came to this, that King 
Olaf was proclaimed king over the whole country, and the 



kingdom adjudged to him according to law in the Uplands 


King Olaf began immediately his progress through the 
country, appointing feasts before him wherever there were 
royal farms. First he travelled round in Hadaland, and 
then he proceeded north to Gudbrandsdal. And now it 
went as King Sigurd Syr had foretold, that people 
streamed to him from all quarters ; and he did not appear 
to have need for half of them, for he had nearly 300 
men. But the entertainments bespoken did not half 
serve ; for it had been the custom that kings went about in 
guest-quarters in the Uplands with 60 or 70 men only, 
and never with more than 100 men. The king therefore 
hastened over the country, only stopping one night at the 
same place. When he came north to Dovrefield, he 
arranged his journey so that he came over the mountain 
and down upon the north side of it, and then came to 
Opdal, where he remained all night. Afterwards he pro- 
ceeded through Opdal forest, and came out at Medaldal, 
where he proclaimed a Thing, and summoned the bondes 
to meet him at it. The king made a speech to the Thing, 
and asked the bondes to accept him as king; and prom- 
ised, on his part, the laws and rights which King Olaf 
Trygvason had offered them. The bondes had no strength 
to make opposition to the king ; so the result was that they 
received him as king, and confirmed it by oath : but they 
sent word to Orkadal and Skaun of all that they knew 
concerning Olaf's proceedings. 



Einar Tambaskelfer had a farm and house at Husaby 
in Skaun ; and now when he got news of Olaf 's proceed- 
ings, he immediately split up a war-arrow, and sent it out 
as a token to the four quarters north, south, east, west, 
to call together all free and unfree men in full equip- 
ment of war: therewith the message, that they were to 
defend the land against King Olaf. The message-stick 
went to Orkadal, and thence to Gaulardal, where the 
whole war-force was to assemble. 


King Olaf proceeded with his men down into Orkadal, 
and advanced in peace and with all gentleness; but when 
he came to Griotar he met the assembled bondes, amount- 
ing to more than 700 men. Then the king arrayed his 
army, for he thought the bondes were to give battle. 
When the bondes saw this, they also began to put their 
men in order; but it went on very slowly, for they had 
not agreed beforehand who among them should be com- 
mander. Now when King Olaf saw there was con- 
fusion among the bondes, he sent to them Thorer Gud- 
brandson ; and when he came he told them King Olaf did 
not want to fight them, but named twelve of the ablest 
men in their flock of people, who were desired to come 
to King Olaf. The bondes agreed to this ; and the twelve 
men went over a rising ground which is there, and came 
to the place where the king's army stood in array. The 
king said to them, "Ye bondes have done well to give me 



an opportunity to speak with you, for now I will explain 
to you my errand here to the Throndhjem country. First 
I must tell you, what ye already must have heard, that 
Earl Hakon and I met in summer; and the issue of our 
meeting was, that he gave me the whole kingdom he pos- 
sessed in the Throndhjem country, which, as ye know, 
consists of Orkadal, Gaulardal, Strind, and Eyna district. 
As a proof of this, I have here with me the very men 
who were present, and saw the earl's and my own hands 
given upon it, and heard the word and oath, and witnessed 
the agreement the earl made with me. Now I offer you 
peace and law, the same as King Olaf Trygvason offered 
before me." 

The king spoke well, and long ; and ended by proposing 
to the bondes two conditions either to go into his service 
and be subject to him, or to fight him. Thereupon the 
twelve bondes went back to their people, and told the issue 
of their errand, and considered with the people what they 
should resolve upon. Although they discussed the matter 
backwards and forwards for a while, they preferred at last 
to submit to the king ; and it was confirmed by the oath of 
the bondes. The king now proceeded on his journey, and 
the bondes made feasts for him. The king then pro- 
ceeded to the sea-coast, and got ships ; and among others 
he got a long-ship of twenty benches of rowers from 
Gunnar of Gelmin ; another ship of twenty benches he got 
from Loden of Viggia ; and three ships of twenty benches 
from the farm of Angrar on the ness, which farm Earl 
Hakon had possessed, but a steward managed it for him, 
by name Bard White. The king had, besides, four or 


five boats ; and with these vessels he went in all haste into 
the fjord of Throndhjem. 


Earl Svein was at that time far up in the Throndhjem 
fjord at Steinker, which at that time was a merchant 
town, and was there preparing for the Yule festival 
(1015). When Einar Tambaskelfer heard that the 
Orkadal people had submitted to King Olaf, he sent men 
to Earl Svein to bring him the tidings. They went first 
to Nidaros, and took a rowing-boat which belonged to 
Einar, with which they went out into the fjord, and came 
one day late in the evening to Steinker, where they 
brought to the earl the news about all King Olaf s pro- 
ceedings. The earl owned a long-ship, which was lying 
afloat and rigged just outside the town ; and immediately, 
in the evening, he ordered all his movable goods, his 
people's clothes, and also meat and drink, as much as the 
vessel could carry, to be put on board, rowed immediately 
out in the night-time, and came with daybreak to Skarn- 
sund. There he saw King Olaf rowing in with his fleet 
into the fjord. The earl turned towards the land within 
Masarvik, where there was a thick wood, and lay so near 
the rocks that the leaves and branches hung over the 
vessel. They cut down some large trees, which they laid 
over the quarter on the sea-side, so that the ship could not 
be seen for leaves, especially as it was scarcely clear day- 
light when the king came rowing past them. The weather 
was calm, and the king rowed in among the islands ; and 
when the king's fleet was out of sight the earl rowed out of 



the fjord, and on to Frosta, where his kingdom lay, and 
there he landed. 


Earl Svein sent men out to Gaulardal to his brother-in- 
law, Einar Tambaskelf er ; and when Einar came the earl 
told him how it had been with him and King Olaf, and 
that now he would assemble men to go out against King 
Olaf, and fight him. 

Einar answers, "We should go to work cautiously, and 
find out what King Olaf intends doing; and not let him 
hear anything concerning us but that we are quiet. It may 
happen that if he hears nothing about our assembling 
people, he may sit quietly where he is in Steinker all the 
Yule; for there is plenty prepared for him for the Yule 
feast : but if he hears we are assembling men, he will set 
right out of the fjord with his vessels, and we shall not 
get hold of him." Einar's advice was taken ; and the earl 
went to Stjoradal, into guest-quarters among the bondes. 

When King Olaf came to Steinker he collected all the 
meat prq>ared for the Yule feast, and made it be put on 
board, procured some transport vessels, took meat and 
drink with him, and got ready to sail as fast as possible, 
and went out all the way to Nidaros. Here King Olaf 
Trygvason had laid the foundation of a merchant town, 
and had built a king's house ; but before that Nidaros was 
only a single house, as before related. When Earl Eirik 
came to the country, he applied all his attention to his 
house of Lade, where his father had had his main resi- 
dence, and he neglected the houses which Olaf had erected 



at the Nid; so that some were fallen down, and those 
which stood were scarcely habitable. King Olaf went 
now with his ships up the Nid, made all the houses to be 
put in order directly that were still standing, and built 
anew those that had fallen down, and employed in this 
work a great many people. Then he had all the meat and 
drink brought on shore to the houses, and prepared to hold 
Yule there ; so Earl Svein and Enar had to fall upon some 
other plan. 


There was an Iceland man called Thord Sigvaldaskald, 
who had been long with Earl Sigvalde, and afterwards 
with the earl's brother, Thorkel the Tall; but after the 
earl's death Thord had become a merchant. He met King 
Olaf on his viking cruise in the west, and entered into 
his service, and followed him afterwards. He was with 
the king when the incidents above related took place. 
Thord had a son called Sigvat fostered in the house of 
Thorkel at Apavatn, in Iceland. When he was nearly a 
grown man he went out of the country with some mer- 
chants; and the ship came in autumn to the Throndhjem 
country, and the crew lodged in the hered (district) . The 
same winter King Olaf came to Throndhjem, as just now 
related by us. Now when Sigvat heard that his father 
Thord was with the king, he went to him, and stayed a 
while with him. Sigvat was a good skald at an early age. 
He made a lay in honour of King Olaf, and asked the king 
to listen to it. The king said he did not want poems com- 
posed about him, and said he did not understand the 
skald's craft. Then Sigvat sang : 



"Rider of dark-blue ocean's steeds ! And show no favour to my brothers, 

Allow one skald to sing thy deeds ; Yet I may all men's favour claim, 

And listen to the song of one Who sing still of our great king's 
Who can sing well, if any can. fame." 

For should the king despise all 

King Olaf gave Sigvat as a reward for his verse a gold 
ring that weighed half a mark, and Sigvat was made one 
of King Olafs court-men. Then Sigvat sang: 

"I willingly receive this sword A faithful follower thou hast bound 

By land or sea, on shore, on board, A generous master I have found ; 

I trust that I shall ever be Master and servant both have made 

Worthy the sword received from Just what best suits them by this 
thee. trade." 

Earl Svein had, according to custom, taken one half of 
the harbour-dues from the Iceland ship-traders about 
autumn (1014) ; for the Earls Eirik and Hakon had 
always taken one half of these and all other revenues in 
the Throndhjem country. Now when King Olaf came 
there, he sent his men to demand that half of the tax 
from the Iceland traders ; and they went up to the king's 
house, and asked Sigvat to help them. He went to the 
king, and sang: 

"My prayer, I trust, will not be It is not right that these poor men 

vain Their harbour-dues should pay again. 

No gold by it have I to gain ; That they paid once I know is true ; 

All that the king himself here wins Remit, great king, what scarce is 
Is not red gold, but a few skins. due." 


Earl Svein and Einar Tambaskelfer gathered a large 
armed force, with which they came by the upper road into 
Gaulardal, and so down to Nidaros, with nearly 2000 
men. King Olafs men were out upon the Gaular ridge, 
and had a guard on horseback. They became aware that 
a force was coming down the Gaulardal, and they brought 



word of it to the king about midnight. The king got up 
immediately, ordered the people to be wakened, and they 
went on board of the ships, bearing all their clothes and 
arms on board, and all that they could take with them, and 
then rowed out of the river. Then came the earl's men 
to the town at the same moment, took all the Christmas 
provision, and set fire to the houses. King Olaf went out 
of the fjord down to Orkadal, and there landed the men 
from their ships. From. Orkadal they went up to the 
mountains, and over the mountains eastwards into Gud- 
brandsdal. In the lines composed about Kleng Bru- 
sason, it is said that Earl Eirik burned the town of 
Nidaros : 

"The king's half -finished hall, Is burned down by the river's side ; 

Rafters, roof, and all, The flame spreads o'er the city wide." 

43. 01? KING OI<A!\ 

King Olaf went southwards through Gudbrandsdal, 
and thence out to Hedemark. In the depth of winter 
(1015) he went about in guest-quarters; but when spring 
returned he collected men, and went to Viken. He had 
with him many people from Hedemark, whom the kings 
had given him; and also many powerful people from 
among the bondes joined him, among whom Ketil Kalf 
from Ringanes. He had also people from Raumarike. 
His stepfather, Sigurd Syr, gave him the help also of a 
great body of men. They went down from thence to the 
coast, and made ready to put to sea from Viken. The 
fleet, which was manned with many fine fellows, went out 
then to Tunsberg. 




After Yule (1015) Earl Svein gathers all the men of 
the Throndhjem country, proclaims a levy for an expedi- 
tion, and fits out ships. At that time there were in the 
Throndhjem country a great number of lendermen ; and 
many of them were so powerful and well-born, that they 
descended from earls, or even from the royal race, which 
in a short course of generations reckoned to Harald Har- 
fager, and they were also very rich. These lendermen 
were of great help to the kings or earls who ruled the 
land ; for it was as if the lenderman had the bonde-people 
of each district in his power. Earl Svein being a good 
friend of the lendermen, it was easy for him to collect 
people. His brother-in-law, Einar Tambaskelfer, was on 
his side, and with him many other lendermen ; and among 
them many, both lendermen and bondes, who the winter 
before had taken the oath of fidelity to King Olaf. When 
they were ready for sea they went directly out of the fjord, 
steering south along the land, and drawing men from 
every district. When they came farther south, abreast 
of Rogaland, Erling Skialgson came to meet them, with 
many people and many lendermen with him. Now they 
steered eastward with their whole fleet to Viken, and Earl 
Svein ran in there towards the end of Easter. The earl 
steered his fleet to Grenmar, and ran -into Nesjar (1015). 


King Olaf steered his fleet out from Viken, until the 
two fleets were not far from each other, and they got news 



of each other the Saturday before Palm Sunday. King 
Olaf himself had a ship called the Carl's Head, on the 
bow of which a king's head was carved out, and he him- 
self had carved it. This head was used long after in 
Norway on ships which kings steered themselves. 


As soon as day dawned on Sunday morning, King Olaf 
got up, put on his clothes, went to the land, and ordered 
to sound the signal for the whole army to come on shore. 
Then he made a speech to the troops, and told the whole 
assembly that he had heard there was but a short distance 
between them and Earl Svein. "Now," said he, "we shall 
make ready ; for it can be but a short time until we meet. 
Let the people arm, and every man be at the post that has 
been appointed him, so that all may be ready when I 
order the signal to sound for casting off from the land. 
Then let us row off at once; and so that none go on before 
the rest of the ships, and none lag behind, when I row out 
of the harbour : for we cannot tell if we shall find the earl 
where he was lying, or if he has come out to meet us. 
When we do meet, and the battle begins, let people be alert 
to bring all our ships in close order, and ready to bind 
them together. Let us spare ourselves in the beginning, 
and take care of our weapons, that we do not cast them 
into the sea, or shoot them away in the air to no purpose. 
But when the fight becomes hot, and the ships are bound 
together, then let each man show what is m him of manly 

20 295 


King Olaf had in his ship 100 men armed in coats of 
ring-mail, and in foreign helmets. The most of his men 
had white shields, on which the holy cross was gilt; but 
some had painted it in blue or red. He had also had the 
cross painted in front on all the helmets, in a pale colour. 
He had a white banner on which was a serpent figured. 
He ordered a mass to be read before him, went on board 
ship, and ordered his people to refresh themselves with 
meat and drink. He then ordered the war-horns to sound 
to battle, to leave the harbour, and row off to seek the 
earl. Now when they came to the harbour where the earl 
had lain, the earl's men were armed, and beginning to row 
out of the harbour; but when they saw the king's fleet 
coming they began to bind the ships together, to set up 
their banners, and to make ready for the fight. When 
King Olaf saw this he hastened the rowing, laid his ship 
alongside the earl's, and the battle began. So says Sigvat 
the skald : 

"Boldly the king did then pursue In battle-brunt the sword and spear. 

Earl Svein, nor let him out of view. Earl Svein his ships of war pushed 
The blood ran down the reindeer's on, 

flank And lashed their stout stems one to 
Of each sea-king his vessel's plank. one." 

Nor did the earl's stout warriors 


It is said that King Olaf brought his ships into battle 
while Svein was still lying in the harbour. Sigvat the 
skald was himself in the fight ; and in summer, just after 
the battle, he composed a lay, which is called the Nesjar 
Song, in which he tells particularly the circumstances : 

"In the fierce flght 'tis known how Laid the Charles' head the earl on 

near board, 

The scorner of the ice-cold spear All eastward of the Agder fjord." 



Then was the conflict exceedingly sharp, and it was 
long before it could be seen how it was to go in the end. 
Many fell on both sides, and many were the wounded. 
So says Sigvat : 

"No urging did the earl require, Of limb-lopping enough was there, 

'Midst spear and sword the battle's And ghastly wounds of sword and 

fire ; spear. 

No urging did the brave king need Never, I think, was rougher play 

The ravens in this shield-storm to Than both the armies had that day." 


The earl had most men, but the king had a chosen crew 
in his ship, who had followed him in all his wars; and, 
besides, they were so excellently equipped, as before 
related, that each man had a coat of ring-mail, so that he 
could not be wounded. So says Sigvat : 

"Our lads, broad-shouldered, tall, And in the air the spears were sing- 

and hale, ing. 

Drew on their cold shirts of ring- Under our helms we hid our hair, 

mail. For thick flew arrows through the air. 

Soon sword on sword was shrilly Right glad was I our gallant crew, 

ringing, Steel-clad from head to foot, to view." 

48. KARiv SVKIN'S 

When the men began to fall on board the earl's ships, 
and many appeared wounded, so that the sides of the 
vessels were but thinly beset with men, the crew of King 
Olaf prepared to board. Their banner was brought up to 
the ship that was nearest the earl's, and the king himself 
followed the banner. So says Sigvat : 

"'On with the king!' his banners Slippery with blood and strewed 

waving : with wreck. 

'On with the king !' the spears he's A different work ye have to share, 

braving ! His banner in war-storm to bear, 

'On, steel-clad men! and storm the From your fair girl's, who round the 

deck, hall 

Brings the full mead-bowl to us all.' " 

Now was the severest fighting. Many of Svein's men 
fell, and some sprang overboard. So says Sigvat : 



"Into the ship our brave lads The wounded bonde o'er the side 

spring, Falls shrieking in the blood-stained 
On shield and helm their red blades tide 

ring ; The deck is cleared with wild up- 
The air resounds with stroke on roar 

stroke, The dead crew float about the shore." 
The shields are cleft, the helms are 


And also these lines : 

"The shields we brought from home Where the foe blunted the best sword 

were white, I saw our young king climb on board. 

Now they are red-stained in the fight : He stormed the first ; we followed 

This work was fit for those who wore him 

Ringed coats-of-mail their breasts The ward-birds now in blood may 

before. swim." 

Now defeat began to come down upon the earl's men. 
The king's men pressed upon the earl's ship and entered 
it ; but when the earl saw how it was going, he called out 
to his forecastle-men to cut the cables and cast the ship 
loose, which they did. Then the king's men threw grap- 
plings over the timber heads of the, ship, and so held her 
fast to their own; but the earl ordered the timber heads 
to be cut away, which was done. So says Sigvat: 

"The earl, his noble shit) to save, We feasted Odin's fowls with dead ; 

To cut the posts loud order gave. With many a goodly corpse that 
The ship escaped : our greedy eyes floated 

Had looked on her as a clear prize. Round our ship's stern his birds 
The earl escaped ; but ere he fled were bloated." 

Einar Tambaskelfer had laid his ship right alongside 
the earl's. They threw an anchor over the bows of the 
earl's ship, and thus towed her away, and they slipped out 
of the fjord together. Thereafter the whole of the earl's 
fleet took to flight, and rowed out of the fjord. The skald 
Berse Torfason was on the forecastle of the earl's ship; 
and as it was gliding past the king's fleet, King Olaf called 
out to him for he knew Berse, who was distinguished as 
a remarkably handsome man, always well equipped in 



clothes and arms "Farewell, Berse !" He replied, "Fare- 
well, king!" So says Berse himself, in a poem he com- 
posed when he fell into King Olaf's power, and was laid 
in prison and in fetters on board a ship : 

"Olaf the Brave 

A 'farewell' gave, 

(No time was there to parley long,) 

To me who knows the art of song. 

The skald was fain 

'Farewell' again 

In the same terms back to send 
The rule in arms to foe or friend. 

Earl Svein's distress 

I well can guess, 

When flight he was compelled to 

His fortunes I will ne'er forsake. 

Though I lie here 
In chains a year, 
In thy great vessel all forlorn, 
To crouch to I still will scorn : 

I still will say, 

No milder sway 
Than from thy foe this land e'er 

knew : 
To him, my early friend, I'm true." 


Now some of the earl's men fled up the country, some 
surrendered at discretion; but Svein and his followers 
rowed out of the fjord, and the chiefs laid their vessels 
together to talk with each other, for the earl wanted 
counsel from his lendermen. Erling Skialgson advised 
that they should sail north, collect people, and fight King 
Olaf again; but as they had lost many people, the most 
were of opinion that the earl should leave the country, and 
repair to his brother-in-law the Swedish king, and 
strengthen himself there with men. Einar Tambaskelfer 
approved also of that advice, as they had no power to hold 
battle against Olaf. So they discharged their fleet. The 
earl sailed across Folden, and with him Einar Tamba- 
skelfer. Erling Skialgson again, and likewise many other 
lendermen who would not abandon their udal possessions, 
went north to their homes ; and Erling had many people 
that summer about him. 




When King Olaf and his men saw that the earl had 
gathered his ships together, Sigurd Syr was in haste for 
pursuing the earl, and letting steel decide their cause. But 
King Olaf replies, that he would first see what the earl 
intended doing whether he would keep his force together 
or discharge his fleet. Sigurd Syr said, "It is for thee, 
king, to command; but," he adds, "I fear, from thy dis- 
position and wilfulness, that thou wilt some day be 
betrayed by trusting to those great people, for they are 
accustomed of old to bid defiance to their sovereigns." 
There was no attack made, for it was soon seen that the 
earl's fleet was dispersing. Then King Olaf ransacked 
the slain, and remained there some days to divide the 
booty. At that time Sigvat made these verses : 

"The tale I tell is true : Their jeers, I think, will spare, 

To their homes returned but few For the king's force was but small 

Of Svein's men, who came to meet That emptied Throndhjem's hall. 

King Olaf's gallant fleet. But if they will have their jeer, 

From the North these warmen came They may ask their sweethearts dear, 

To try the bloody game, Why they have returned shorn 

On the waves their corpses borne Who went to shear that Sunday 
Show the game that Sunday morn. morn." 

The Throndhjem girls so fair 

And also these: 

"Now will the king's power rise, Earl Svein ! thou now wilt know 

For the Upland men still prize That our lads can make blood flow 

The king who o'er the sea That the Hedemarkers hale 

Steers to bloody victory. Can do more than tap good ale." 

King Olaf gave his stepfather King Sigurd Syr, and 
the other chiefs who had assisted him, handsome presents 
at parting. He gave Ketil of Ringanes a yacht of fifteen 
benches of rowers, which Ketil brought up the Raum 
river and into the Mjosen lake. 



51. - OF KING 

King Olaf sent spies out to trace the earl's doings 
(1015); and when he found that the earl had left the 
country he sailed out west, and to Viken, where many 
people came to him. At the Thing there he was taken as 
king, and so he proceeded all the way to the Naze; and 
when he heard that Erling Skialgson had gathered a large 
force, he did not tarry in North Agder, but sailed with a 
steady fair wind to the Throndhjem country ; for there it 
appeared to him was the greatest strength of the land, if 
he could subdue it for himself while the earl was abroad. 
When Olaf came to Throndhjem there was no opposition, 
and he was elected there to be king. In harvest (1015) 
he took his seat in the town of Nidaros, and collected the 
needful winter provision ( 1016 ) . He built a king's house, 
and raised Clement's church on the spot on which it now 
stands. He parcelled out building ground, which he gave 
to bondes, merchants, or others who he thought would 
build. There he sat down, with many men-at-arms around 
him; for he put no great confidence in the Throndhjem 
people, if the earl should return to the country. The 
people of the interior of the Throndhjem country showed 
this clearly, for he got no land-scat from them. 


Earl Svein went first to Svithjod, to his brother-in-law 
Olaf the Swedish king, told him all that had happened 
between him and Olaf the Thick, and asked his advice 
about what he should now undertake. The king said that 
the earl should stay with him if he liked, and get such a 



portion of his kingdom to rule over as should seem to him 
sufficient ; "or otherwise," says he, "I will give thee help 
of forces to conquer the country again from Olaf." The 
earl chose the latter; for all those among his men who had 
great possessions in Norway, which was the case with 
many who were with him, were anxious to get back ; and 
in the council they held about this, it was resolved that in 
winter they should take the land-way over Helsingjaland 
and Jamtaland, and so down into the Throndhjem land ; 
for the earl reckoned most upon the faithful help and 
strength of the Throndhjem people of the interior as soon 
as he should appear there. In the meantime, however, it 
was determined to take a cruise in summer in the Baltic 
to gather property. 


Earl Svein went eastward with his forces to Russia, 
and passed the summer (1015) in marauding there; but 
on the approach of autumn returned with his ships to 
Svithjod. There he fell into a sickness, which proved 
fatal. After the earl's death some of the people who had 
followed him remained in Svithjod; others went to Hel- 
singjaland, thence to Jamtaland, and so from the east over 
the dividing ridge of the country to the Throndhjem dis- 
trict, where they told all that had happened upon their 
journey: and thus the truth of Earl S vein's death was 
known (1016). 


Einar Tambaskelfer, and the people who had followed 
him went in winter to the Swedish king, and were 



received in a friendly manner. There were also among 
them many who had followed the earl. The Swedish king 
took it much amiss that Olaf the Thick had set himself 
down in his scat-lands, and driven the earl out of them, 
and therefore he threatened the king with his heaviest 
vengeance when opportunity offered. He said that Olaf 
ought not to have had the presumption to take the 
dominions which the earl had held of him; and all the 
Swedish king's men agreed with him. But the Thrond- 
hjem people, when they heard for certain that the earl was 
dead, and could not be expected back to Norway, turned 
all to obedience to King Olaf. Many came from the 
interior of the Throndhjem country, and became King 
Olaf 's men ; others sent word and tokens that they would 
serve him. Then, in autumn, he went into the interior of 
Throndhjem, and held Things with the bondes, and was 
received as king in each district. He returned to Nidaros, 
and brought there all the king's scat and revenue, and had 
his winter-seat provided there (1016). 

55. OF KING 


King Olaf built a king's house in Nidaros, and in it 
was a large room for his court, with doors at both ends. 
The king's high-seat was in the middle of the room ; and 
within sat his court-bishop, Grimkel, and next him his 
other priests ; without them sat his counsellors ; and in the 
other high-seat opposite to the king sat his marshal, Bjorn, 
and next to him his pursuivants. When people of impor- 
tance came to him, they also had a seat of honour. The 
ale was drunk by the fire-light. He divided the service 



among his men after the fashion of other kings. He had 
in his house sixty court-men and thirty pursuivants ; and 
to them he gave pay and certain regulations. He had 
also thirty house-servants to do the needful work about 
the house, and procure what was required. He had, 
besides, many slaves. At the house were many outbuild- 
ings, in which the court-men slept. There was also a large 
room, in which the king held his court-meetings. 


It was King Olaf's custom to rise betimes in the morn- 
ing, put on his clothes, wash his hands, and then go to the 
church and hear the matins and morning mass. There- 
after he went to the Thing-meeting, to bring people to 
agreement with each other, or to talk of one or the other 
matter that appeared to him necessary. He invited to 
him great and small who were known to be men of 
understanding. He often made them recite to him the 
laws which Hakon Athelstan's foster-son had made for 
Throndhjem; and after considering them with those men 
of understanding, he ordered laws adding to or taking 
from those established before. But Christian privileges 
he settled according to the advice of Bishop Grimkel and 
other learned priests ; and bent his whole mind to uproot- 
ing heathenism, and old customs which he thought con- 
trary to Christianity. And he succeeded so far that the 
bondes accepted of the laws which the king proposed. So 
says Sigvat: 

"The king, who at the helm guides Now gives one law for all the land 
His warlike ship through clashing A heavenly law, which long will 
tides, stand." 



King Olaf was a good and very gentle man, of little 
speech, and open-handed although greedy of money. 
Sigvat the skald, as before related, was in King Olaf s 
house, and several Iceland men. The king asked par- 
ticularly how Christianity was observed in Iceland, and it 
appeared to him to be very far from what it ought to be ; 
for, as to observing Christian practices, it was told the 
king that it was permitted there to eat horse-flesh, to 
expose infants as heathens do, besides many other things 
contrary to Christianity. They also told the king about 
many principal men who were then in Iceland. Skapte 
Thorodson was then the lagman of the country. He 
inquired also of those who were best acquainted with it 
about the state of people in other distant countries; and 
his inquiries turned principally on how Christianity was 
observed in the Orkney, Shetland, and Farey Islands : 
and, as far as he could learn, it was far from being as he 
could have wished. Such conversation was usually car- 
ried on by him ; or else he spoke about the laws and rights 
of the country. 


The same winter (1016) came messengers from the 
Swedish king, Olaf the Swede, out of Svithjod ; and their 
leaders were two brothers, Thorgaut Skarde and Asgaut 
the bailiff; and they had twenty-four men with them. 
When they came from the eastward, over the ridge of 
the country down into Veradal, they summoned a Thing 
of the bondes, talked to them, and demanded of them scat 
and duties upon account of the king of Sweden. But the 



bondes, after consulting with each other, determined only 
to pay the scat which the Swedish king required in so far 
as King Olaf required none upon his account, but refused 
to pay scat to both. The messengers proceeded farther 
down the valley; but received at every Thing they held 
the same answer, and no money. They went forward to 
Skaun, held a Thing there, and demanded scat; but it 
went there as before. Then they came to Stjoradal, and 
summoned a Thing, but the bondes would not come to it. 
Now the messengers saw that their business was a failure ; 
and Thorgaut proposed that they should turn about, and 
go eastward again. "I do not think," says Asgaut, "that 
we have performed the king's errand unless we go to King 
Olaf the Thick, since the bondes refer the matter to him." 
He was their commander ; so they proceeded to the town 
(Nidaros), and took lodging there. The day after they 
presented themselves to the king, just as he was seated at 
table, saluted him, and said they came with a message of 
the Swedish king. The king told them to come to him 
next day. Next day the king, having heard mass, went 
to his Thing-house, ordered the messengers of the 
Swedish king to be called, and told them' to produce their 
message. Then Thorgaut spoke, and told first what his 
errand was, and next how the Throndhjem people of the 
interior had replied to it; and asked the king's decision 
on the business, that they might know what result their 
errand there was to have. The king answers, "While the 
earls ruled over the country, it was not to be wondered at 
if the country people thought themselves bound to obey 
them, as they were at least of the royal race of the king- 



dom. But it would have been more just if those earls had 
given assistance and service to the kings who had a right 
to the country, rather than to foreign kings, or to stir up 
opposition to their lawful kings, depriving them of their 
land and kingdom. With regard to Olaf the Swede, who 
calls himself entitled to the kingdom of Norway, I, who 
in fact am so entitled, can see no ground for his claim ; but 
well remember the skaith and damage we have suffered 
from him and his relations." 

Then says Asgaut, "It is not wonderful that thou art 
called Olaf the Thick, seeing thou answerest so haughtily 
to such a prince's message, and canst not see clearly how 
heavy the king's wrath will be for thee to support, as many 
have experienced who had greater strength than thou 
appearest to have. But if thou wishest to keep hold of 
thy kingdom, it will be best for thee to come to the king, 
and be his man; and we shall beg him to give thee this 
kingdom in fief under him." 

The king replies with all gentleness, "I will give thee 
an advice, Asgaut, in return. Go back to the east again 
to thy king, and tell him that early in spring I will make 
myself ready, and will proceed eastward to the ancient 
frontier that divided formerly the kingdom of the kings 
of Norway from Sweden. There he may come if he 
likes, that we may conclude a peace with each other ; and 
each of us will retain the kingdom to which he is born." 

Now the messengers turned back to their lodging, and 
prepared for their departure, and the king went to table. 
The messengers came back soon after to the king's house ; 
but the doorkeepers saw it, and reported it to the king, who 



told them not to let the messengers in. "I will not speak 
with them," said he. Then the messengers went off, and 
Thorgaut said he would now return home with his men ; 
but Asgaut insisted still that he would go forward with 
the king's errand : so they separated. Thorgaut proceeded 
accordingly through Strind; but Asgaut went into Gaul- 
ardal and Orkadal, and intended proceeding southwards 
to More, to deliver his king's message. When King Olaf 
came to the knowledge of this he sent out his pursuivants 
after them, who found them at the ness in Stein, bound 
their hands behind their backs, and led them down to the 
point called Gaularas, where they raised a gallows, and 
hanged them so that they could be seen by those who 
travelled the usual sea-way out of the fjord. Thorgaut 
heard this news before he had travelled far on his way 
home through the Throndhjem country; and he hastened 
on his journey until he came to the Swedish king, and told 
him how it had gone with them. The king was highly 
enraged when he heard the account of it ; and he had no 
lack of high words. 


The spring thereafter (1016) King Olaf Haraldson 
calls out an army from the Throndhjem land, and makes 
ready to proceed eastward. Some of the Iceland traders 
were then ready to sail from Norway. With them King 
Olaf sent word and token to Hjalte Skeggjason, and sum- 
moned him to come to him ; and at the same time sent a 
verbal message to Skapte the lagman, and other men who 
principally took part in the lawgiving of Iceland, to take 



out of the law whatever appeared contrary to Christianity. 
He sent, besides, a message of friendship to the people in 
general. The king then proceeded southwards himself 
along the coast, stopping at every district, and holding 
Things with the bondes ; and in each Thing he ordered the 
Christian law to be read, together with the message of 
salvation thereunto belonging, and with which many ill 
customs and much heathenism were swept away at once 
among the common people : for the earls had kept well the 
old laws and rights of the country; but with respect to 
keeping Christianity, they had allowed every man to do 
as he liked. It was thus come so far that the people were 
baptized in the most places on the sea-coast, but the most 
of them were ignorant of Christian law. In the upper 
ends of the valleys, and in the habitations among the 
mountains, the greater part of the people were heathen; 
for when the common man is left to himself, the faith he 
has been taught in his childhood is that which has the 
strongest hold over his inclination. But the king threat- 
ened the most violent proceedings against great or small, 
who, after the king's message, would not adopt Chris- 
tianity. In the meantime Olaf was proclaimed king in 
every Law Thing in the country, and no man spoke 
against him. While he lay in Karmtsund messengers 
went between him and Erling Skjalgson, who endeavoured 
to make peace between them; and the meeting was 
appointed in Whitings Isle. When they met they spoke 
with each other about agreement together; but Erling 
found something else than he expected in the conversa- 
tion: for when he insisted on having all the fiefs which 



Olaf Trygvason, and afterwards the Earls Svein and 
Hakon, had given him, and on that condition would be 
his man and dutiful friend, the king answered, "It appears 
to me, Erling, that it would be no bad bargain for thee to 
get as great fiefs from me for thy aid and friendship as 
thou hadst from Earl Eirik, a man who had done thee 
the greatest injury by the bloodshed of thy men ; but even 
if I let thee remain the greatest lenderman in Norway, I 
will bestow my fiefs according to my own will, and not act 
as if ye lendermen had udal right to my ancestor's her- 
itage, and I was obliged to buy your services with mani- 
fold rewards." Erling had no disposition to sue for even 
the smallest thing; and he saw that the king was not 
easily dealt with. He saw also that he had only two condi- 
tions before him : the one was to make no agreement with 
the king, and stand by the consequences; the other, to 
leave it entirely to the king's pleasure Although it was 
much against his inclination, he chose the latter, and 
merely said to the king, "The service will be the most 
useful to thee which I give with a free will." And thus 
their conference ended. Erling's relations and friends 
came to him afterwards, and advised him to give way, 
and proceed with more prudence and less pride. "Thou 
wilt still," they said, "be the most important and most 
respected lenderman in Norway, both on account of thy 
own and thy relations' abilities and great wealth." Erling 
found that this was prudent advice, and that they who 
gave it did so with a good intention, and he followed it 
accordingly. Erling went into the king's service on such 
conditions as the king himself should determine and 



please. Thereafter they separated in some shape recon- 
ciled, and Olaf went his way eastward along the coast 


As soon as it was reported that Olaf had come to 
Viken, the Danes who had offices under the Danish king 
set off for Denmark, without waiting for King Olaf. But 
King Olaf sailed in along Viken, holding Things with the 
bondes. All the people of the country submitted to him, 
and thereafter he took all the king's taxes, and remained 
the summer (1016) in Viken. He then sailed east from 
Tunsberg across the fjord, and all the way east to Svina- 
sund. There the Swedish king's dominions begin, and he 
had set officers over this country; namely, Eilif Gautske 
over the north part, and Hroe Skialge over the east part, 
all the way to the Gaut river. Hroe had family friends 
on both sides of the river, and also great farms on Hising 
Island, and was besides a mighty and very rich man. Eilif 
was also of great family, and very wealthy. Now when 
King Olaf came to Ranrike he summoned the people to a 
Thing, and all who dwelt on the sea-coast or in the out- 
islands came to him. Now when the Thing was seated 
the king's marshal, Bjorn, held a speech to them, in which 
he told the bondes to receive Olaf as their king, in the 
same way as had been done in all other parts of Norway. 
Then stood up a bold bonde, by name Brynjolf Ulfalde, 
and said, "We bondes know where the division-bound- 
aries between the Norway and Danish and Swedish kings' 
lands have stood by rights in old times ; namely, that the 
Gaut river divided their lands between the Vener lake and 


the sea ; but towards the north the forests until Eid forest, 
and from thence the ridge of the country all north to 
Finmark. We know, also, that by turns they have made 
inroads upon each other's territories, and that the Swedes 
have long had power all the way to Svinasund. But, 
sooth to say, I know that it is the inclination of many 
rather to serve the king of Norway, but they dare not ; for 
the Swedish king's dominions surround us, both east- 
ward, southwards, and also up the country ; and besides, 
it may be expected that the king of Norway must soon go 
to the north, where the strength of his kingdom lies, and 
then we have no power to withstand the Gautlanders. 
Now it is for the king to give us good counsel, for we 
have great desire to be his men." After the Thing, in the 
evening, Brynjolf was in the king's tent, and the day after 
likewise, and they had much private conversation together. 
Then the king proceeded eastwards along Viken. Now 
when Eilif heard of his arrival, he sent out spies to dis- 
cover what he was about ; but he himself, with thirty men, 
kept himself high up in the habitations among the hills, 
where he had gathered together bondes. Many of the 
bondes came to King Olaf, but some sent friendly mes- 
sages to him. People went between King Olaf and Eilif, 
and they entreated each separately to hold a Thing-meet- 
ing between themselves, and make peace in one way or 
another. They told Eilif that they might expect violent 
treatment from King Olaf if they opposed his orders; 
but promised Eilif he should not want men. It was deter- 
mined that they should come down from the high country, 
and hold a thing with the bondes and the king. King Olaf 



thereupon sent the chief of his pursuivants, Thorer 
Lange, with six men, to Brynjolf. They were equipped 
w r ith their coats-of-mail under their cloaks, and their hats 
over their helmets. The following day the bondes came 
in crowds down with Eilif ; and in his suite was Brynjolf, 
and with him Thorer. The king laid his ships close to a 
rocky knoll that stuck out into the sea, and upon it the 
king went with his people, and sat down. Below was a 
flat field, on which the bondes' force was ; but Eilif's men 
were drawn up, forming a shield-fence before him. Bjorn 
the marshal spoke long and cleverly upon the king's 
account, and when he sat down Eilif arose to speak; but 
at the same moment Thorer L,ange rose, drew his sword, 
and struck Eilif on the neck, so that his head flew off. 
Then the whole bonde- force started up ; but the Gautland 
men set off in full flight, and Thorer with his people killed 
several of them. Now when the crowd was settled again, 
and the noise over, the king stood up, and told the bondes 
to seat themselves. They did so, and then much was 
spoken. The end of it was, that they submitted to the 
king, and promised fidelity to him ; and he, on the other 
hand, promised not to desert them, but to remain at hand 
until the discord between him and the Swedish Olaf was 
settled in one way or other. King Olaf then brought the 
whole northern district under his power, and went in 
summer eastward as far as the Gaut river, and got all the 
king's scat among the islands. But when summer (1016) 
was drawing towards an end he returned north to Viken, 
and sailed up the Raum river to a waterfall called Sarp. 
On the north side of the fall, a point of land juts out into 



the river. There the king ordered a rampart to be built 
right across the ness, of stone, turf, and wood, and a ditch 
to be dug in front of it ; so that it was a large earthen fort 
or burgh, which he made a merchant town of. He had a 
king's house put up, and ordered the building of Mary 
church. He also laid out plans for other houses, and got 
people to build on them. In harvest (1016) he let every- 
thing be gathered there that was useful for his winter 
residence (1017), and sat there with a great many people, 
and the rest he quartered in the neighbouring districts. 
The king prohibited all exports from Viken to Gautland of 
herrings and salt, which the Gautland people could ill do 
without. This year the king held a great Yule feast, to 
which he invited many great bondes. 


There was a man called Eyvind Urarhorn, who was a 
great man, of high birth, who had his descent from the 
East Agder country. Every summer he went out on a 
viking cruise, sometimes to the West sea, sometimes to 
the Baltic, sometimes south to Flanders, and had ^ well- 
armed cutter (snekkia) of twenty benches of rowers. He 
had been also at Nesjar, and given his aid to the king; 
and when they separated the king promised him his 
favour, and Eyvind, again, promised to come to the king's 
aid whenever he was required. This winter (1017) 
Eyvind was at the Yule feast of the king, and received 
goodly gifts from him. Brynjolf Ulfalde was also with 
the king, and he received a Yule present from the king of 
a gold-mounted sword, and also a farm called Vettaland, 


which is a very large head-farm of the district. Brynjolf 
composed a song about these gifts, of which the refrain 

"The song-famed hero to my hand 
Gave a good sword, and Vettaland." 

The king afterwards gave him the title of Lenderman, 
and Brynjolf was ever after the king's greatest friend. 


This winter (1017) Thrand White from Throndhjem 
went east to Jamtaland, to take up scat upon account of 
King Olaf. But when he had collected the scat he was 
surprised by men of the Swedish king, who killed him 
and his men, twelve in all, and brought the scat to the 
Swedish king. King Olaf was very ill-pleased when he 
heard this news. 


King Olaf made Christian law to be proclaimed in 
Viken, in the same way as in the North country. It suc- 
ceeded well, because the people of Viken were better 
acquainted with the Christian customs than the people in 
the north ; for, both winter and summer, there were many 
merchants in Viken, both Danish and Saxon. The people 
of Viken, also, had much trading intercourse with Eng- 
land, and Saxony, and Flanders, and Denmark ; and some 
had been on viking expeditions, and had had their winter 
abode in Christian lands. 

63. HROE'S 

About spring-time (1017) King Olaf sent a message 
that Eyvind Urarhorn should come to him; and they 



spake together in private for a long time. Thereafter 
Eyvind made himself ready for a viking cruise. He sailed 
south towards Viken, and brought up at the Eikreys Isles 
without Rising Isle. There he heard that Hroe Skialge 
had gone northwards towards Ordost, and had there made 
a levy of men and goods on account of the Swedish king, 
and was expected from the north. Eyvind rowed in by 
Haugasund, and Hroe came rowing from the north, and 
they met in the sound and fought. Hroe fell there, with 
nearly thirty men; and Eyvind took all the goods Hroe 
had with him. Eyvind then proceeded to the Baltic, and 
was all summer on a viking cruise. 


There was a man called Gudleik Gerske, who came 
originally from Agder. He was a great merchant, who 
went far and wide by sea, was very rich, and drove a 
trade with various countries. He often went east to 
Gardarike (Russia), and therefore was called Gudleik 
Gerske (the Russian). This spring (1017) Gudleik 
fitted out his ship, and intended to go east in summer to 
Russia. King Olaf sent a message to him that he wanted 
to speak to him ; and when Gudleik came to the king he 
told him he would go in partnership with him, and told 
him to purchase some costly articles which were difficult to 
be had in this country. Gudleik said that it should be 
according to the king's desire. The king ordered as much 
money to be delivered to Gudleik as he thought sufficient, 
and then Gudleik set out for the Baltic. They lay in a 
sound in Gotland ; and there it happened, as it often does, 



that people cannot keep their own secrets, and the people 
of the country came to know that in this ship was Olaf the 
Thick's partner. Gudleik went in summer eastwards to 
Novgorod, where he bought fine and costly clothes, which 
he intended for the king as a state dress ; and also precious 
furs, and remarkably splendid table utensils. In autumn 
(1017), as Gudleik was returning from the east, he met 
a contrary wind, and lay for a long time at the island 
Eyland. There came Thorgaut Skarde, who in autumn 
had heard of Gudleik's course, in a long-ship against him, 
and gave him battle. They fought long, and Gudleik 
and his people defended themselves for a long time; but 
the numbers against them were great, and Gudleik and 
many of his ship's crew fell, and a great many of them 
were wounded. Thorgaut took all their goods, and King 
Olaf's, and he and his comrades divided the booty among 
them equally ; but he said the Swedish king ought to have 
the precious articles of King Olaf, as these, he said, should 
be considered as part of the scat due to him from Norway. 
Thereafter Thorgaut proceeded east to Svithjod. These 
tidings were soon known ; and as Eyvind Urarhorn came 
soon after to Eyland, he heard the news, and sailed east 
after Thorgaut and his troop, and overtook them among 
the Swedish isles on the coast, and gave battle. There 
Thorgaut and the most of his men were killed, and the 
rest sprang overboard. Eyvind took all the goods and 
all the costly articles of King Olaf which they had cap- 
tured from Gudleik, and went with these back to Norway 
in autumn, and delivered to King Olaf his precious wares. 
The king thanked him in the most friendly way for his 



proceeding, and promised him anew his favour and friend- 
ship. At this time Olaf had been three years king over 
Norway (1015-1017). 


The same summer (1017) King Olaf ordered a levy, 
and went out eastwards to the Gaut river, where he lay a 
great part of the summer. Messages were passing be- 
tween King Olaf, Earl Ragnvald, and the earl's wife, 
Ingebjorg, the daughter of Trygve. She was very zealous 
about giving King Olaf of Norway every kind of help, 
and made it a matter of her deepest interest. For this 
there were two causes. She had a great friendship for 
King Olaf; and also she could never forget that the 
Swedish king had been one at the death of her brother, 
Olaf Trygvason ; and also that he, on that account only, 
had any pretence to rule over Norway. The earl, by her 
persuasion, turned much towards friendship with King 
Olaf; and it proceeded so far that the earl and the king 
appointed a meeting, and met at the Gaut river. They 
talked together of many things, but especially of the Nor- 
wegian and Swedish kings' relations with each other; 
both agreeing, as was the truth also, that it was the great- 
est loss, both to the people of Viken and of Gautland, that 
there was no peace for trade between the two countries ; 
and at last both agreed upon a peace, and still-stand of 
arms between them until next summer; and they parted 
with mutual gifts and friendly speeches. 

The king thereupon returned north to Viken, and had 



all the royal revenues up to the Gaut river; and all the 
people of the country there had submitted to him. King 
Olaf the Swede had so great a hatred of Olaf Haraldson, 
that no man dared to call him by his right name in the 
king's hearing. They called him the thick man ; and never 
named him without some hard by-name. 


The bondes in Viken spoke with each other about there 
being nothing for it but that the kings should make peace 
and a league with each other, and insisted upon it that 
they were badly used by the kings going to war; but 
nobody was so bold as to bring these murmurs before the 
king. At last they begged Bjorn the marshal to bring 
this matter before the king, and entreat him to send 
messengers to the Swedish king to offer peace on his side. 
Bjorn was disinclined to do this, and put it off from him- 
self with excuses; but on the entreaties of many of his 
friends, he promised at last to speak of it to the king ; but 
declared, at the same time, that he knew it would be taken 
very ill by the king to propose that he should give way 
in anything to the Swedish king. The same summer 
(1017) Hjalte Skeggjason came over to Norway from 
Iceland, according to the message sent him by King Olaf, 
and went directly to the king. He was well received by 
the king, who told him to lodge in his house, and gave him 
a seat beside Bjorn the marshal, and Hjalte became his 
comrade at table. There was good-fellowship imme- 
diately between them. 

Once, when King Olaf had assembled the people and 



bondes to consult upon the good of the country, Bjorn the 
marshal said, "What think you, king, of the strife that is 
between the Swedish king and you? Many people have 
fallen on both sides, without its being at all more deter- 
mined than before what each of you shall have of the 
kingdom. You have now been sitting in Viken one 
winter and two summers, and the whole country to the 
north is lying behind your back unseen ; and the men who 
have property or udal rights in the north are weary of 
sitting here. Now it is the wish of the lendermen, of 
your other people, and of the bondes that this should come 
to an end. There is now a truce, agreement, and peace 
with the earl, and the West Gautland people who* are 
nearest to us; and it appears to the people it would be 
best that you sent messengers to the Swedish king to offer 
a reconciliation on your side; and, without doubt, many 
who are about the Swedish king will support the proposal, 
for it is a common gain for those who dwell in both coun- 
tries, both here and there." This speech of Bjorn's 
received great applause. 

Then the king said, "It is fair, Bjorn, that the advice 
thou hast given should be carried out by thyself. Thou 
shalt undertake this embassy thyself, and enjoy the good 
of it, if thou hast advised well ; and if it involve any man 
in danger, thou hast involved thyself in it. Moreover, it 
belongs to thy office to declare to the multitude what I wish 
to have told." Then the king stood up, went to the 
church, and had high mass sung before him ; and there- 
after went to table. 

The following day Hjalte said to Bjorn, "Why art thou 



so melancholy, man ? Art thou sick, or art thou angry at 
any one?" Bjorn tells Hjalte his conversation with the 
king, and says it is a very dangerous errand. 

Hjalte says, "It is their lot who follow kings that they 
enjoy high honours, and are more respected than other 
men, but stand often in danger of their lives: and they 
must understand how to bear both parts of their lot. The 
king's luck is great; and much honour will be gained by 
this business, if it succeed." 

Bjorn answered, "Since thou makest so light of this 
business in thy speech, wilt thou go with me? The king 
has promised that I shall have companions with me on the 

"Certainly," says Hjalte; "I will follow thee, if thou 
wilt : for never again shall I fall in with such a comrade if 
we part." 


A few days afterwards, when the king was at a Thing- 
meeting, Bjorn came with eleven others. He says to the 
king that they were now ready to proceed on their mis- 
sion, and that their horses stood saddled at the door. 
"And now," says he, "I would know with what errand I 
am to go, or what orders thou givest us." 

The king replies, "Ye shall carry these my words to 
the Swedish king that I will establish peace between 
our countries up to the frontier which Olaf Trygvason 
had before me ; and each shall bind himself faithfully not 
to trespass over it. But with regard to the loss of people, 
no man must mention it if peace there is to be; for the 
Swedish king cannot with money pay for the men the 



Swedes have deprived us of." Thereupon the king- rose, 
and went out with B jorn and his followers ; and he took a 
gold-mounted sword and a gold ring, and said, in handing 
over the sword to Bjorn, "This I give thee : it was given 
to me in summer by Earl Ragnvald. To him ye shall go; 
and bring him word from me to advance your errand with 
his counsel and strength. This thy errand I will think 
well fulfilled if thou hearest the Swedish king's own 
words, be they yea or nay : and this gold ring thou shalt 
give Earl Ragnvald. These are tokens 1 he must know 

Hjalte went up to the king, saluted him, and said, "We 
need much, king, that thy luck attend us;" and wished 
that they might meet again in good health. 

The king asked where Hjalte was going. 

"With Bjorn," said he. 

The king said, "It will assist much to the good success 
of the journey that thou goest too, for thy good fortune 
has often been proved; and be assured that I shall wish 
that all my luck, if that be of any weight, may attend thee 
and thy company." 

Bjorn and his followers rode their way, and came to 
Earl Ragnvald's court, where they were well received. 
Bjorn was a celebrated and generally known man, 
known by sight and speech to all who had ever seen King 
Olaf; for at every Thing, Bjorn stood up and told the 
king's message. Ingebjorg, the earl's wife, went up to 
Hjalte and looked at him. She recognized him, for she 

*Before writing was a common accomplishment in courts, the only 
way of accrediting a special messenger between kings and great men 
was by giving the messenger a token ; that is, some article well known 
by the person receiving the message to be the property of and valued by 
the person sending it. 


was living with her brother Olaf Trygvason when Hjalte 
was there : and she knew how to reckon up the relationship 
between King Olaf and Vilborg, the wife of Hjalte; for 
Eirik Bjodaskalle father of Astrid, King Olaf Trygvason's 
mother, and Bodvar father of Olaf, mother of Gissur 
White the father of Vilborg, were brother's sons of the 
lenderman Vikingakare of Vors. 

They enjoyed here good entertainment. One day Bjorn 
entered into conversation with the earl and Ingebjorg, in 
which he set forth his errand, and produced to the earl 
his tokens. 

The earl replies, "What hast thou done, Bjorn, that the 
king wishes thy death ? For, so far from thy errand hav- 
ing any success, I do not think a man can be found who 
could speak these words to the Swedish king without 
incurring wrath and punishment. King Olaf, king of 
Sweden, is too proud for any man to speak to him on any- 
thing he is angry at." 

Then Bjorn says, "Nothing has happened to me that 
King Olaf is offended at; but many of his disposition 
act, both for themselves and others, in a way that only 
men who are daring can succeed in. But as yet all his 
plans have had good success, and I think this will turn 
out well too; so I assure you, earl, that I will actually 
travel to the Swedish king, and not turn back before I 
have brought to his ears every word that King Olaf told 
me to say to him, unless death prevent me, or that I am 
in bonds, and cannot perform my errand ; and this I must 
do, whether you give any aid or no aid to me in fulfilling 
the king's wishes." 



Then said Ingebjorg, "I will soon declare my opinion. 
I think, earl, thou must turn all thy attention to supporting 
King Olaf the king of Norway's desire that this message 
be laid before the Swedish king, in whatever way he may 
answer it. Although the Swedish king's anger should 
be incurred, and our power and property be at stake, yet 
will I rather run the risk, than that it should be said the 
message of King Olaf was neglected from fear of the 
Swedish king. Thou hast that birth, strength of relations, 
and other means, that here in the Swedish land it is free 
to thee to tell thy mind, if it be right and worthy of being 
heard, whether it be listened to by few or many, great or 
little people, or by the king himself." 

The earl replies, "It is known to every one how thou 
urgest me : it may be, according to thy counsel, that I 
should promise the king's men to follow them, so that 
they may get their errand laid before the Swedish king, 
whether he take it ill or take it well. But I will have my 
own counsel followed, and will not run hastily into Bjorn's 
or any other man's measures, in such a highly important 
matter. It is my will that ye all remain here with me, so 
long as I think it necessary for the purpose of rightly for- 
warding this mission." Now as the earl had thus given 
them to understand that he would support them in the 
business, Bjorn thanked him most kindly, and with the 
assurance that his advice should rule them altogether. 
Thereafter Bjorn and his fellow-travellers remained very 
long in the earl's house. 


Ingebjorg was particularly kind to them; and Bjorn 



often spoke with her about the matter, and was ill at ease 
that their journey was so long delayed. Hjalte and the 
others often spoke together also about the matter; and 
Hjalte said, "I will go to the king if ye like ; for I am not 
a man of Norway, and the Swedes can have nothing to say 
to me. I have heard that there are Iceland men in the 
king's house who are my acquaintances, and are well 
treated ; namely, the skalds Gissur Black and Ottar Black. 
From them I shall get out what I can about the Swedish 
king ; and if the business will really be so difficult as it now 
appears, or if there be any other way of promoting it, I 
can easily devise some errand that may appear suitable 
for me." 

This counsel appeared to Bjorn and Ingebjorg to be 
the wisest, and they resolved upon it among themselves. 
Ingebjorg put Hjalte in a position to travel; gave him 
two Gautland men with him, and ordered them to follow 
him, and assist him with their service, and also to go 
wherever he might have occasion to send them. Besides, 
Ingebjorg gave him twenty marks of weighed silver 
money for travelling expenses, and sent word and token 
by him to the Swedish king Olaf's daughter, Ingegerd, 
that she should give all her assistance to Hjalte's business, 
whenever he should find himself under the necessity of 
craving her help. Hjalte set off as soon as he was ready. 
When he came to King Olaf he soon found the skalds Gis- 
sur and Ottar, and they were very glad at his coming. 
Without delay they went to the king, and told him that a 
man was come who was their countryman, and one of the 
most considerable in their native land, and requested the 



king to receive him well. The king told them to take Hjalte 
and his fellow-travellers into their company and quarters. 
Now when Hjalte had resided there a short time, and got 
acquainted with people, he was much respected by every- 
body. The skalds were often in the king's house, for they 
were well-spoken men ; and often in the daytime they sat 
in front of the king's high-seat, and Hjalte, to whom they 
paid the highest respect in all things, by their side. He 
became thus known to the king, who willingly entered into 
conversation with him, and- heard from him news about 


It happened that before Bjorn set out from home he 
asked Sigvat the skald, who at that time was with King 
Olaf, to accompany him on his journey. It was a journey 
for which people had no great inclination. There was, 
however, great friendship between Bjorn and Sigvat. 
Then Sigvat sang: 

"With the king's marshals all have Bjorn, thou oft hast ta'en my part 
I. Pleaded with art, 

In days gone by, And touched the heart. 

Lived joyously, Bjorn ! brave stainer of the sword, 

With all who on the king attend, Thou art my friend I trust thy 
And knee before him humbly bend, word." 

While they were riding up to Gautland, Sigvat made 
these verses : 

"Down the Fjord sweep wind and And now our ship, so gay and grand, 

rain, Glides past the green and lovely land, 

Our stout ship's sails and tackle And at the isle 

strain; Moors for a while. 

Wet to the skin, Our horse-hoofs now leave hasty 

We're sound within, print ; 

And gaily o'er the waves are danc- We ride of ease there's scanty 

ing, stint 

Our sea-steed o'er the waves high In heat and haste 

prancing ! O'er Gautland's waste : 

Through Lister sea Though in a hurry to be married, 

Plying all free ; The king can't say that we have 

Off from the wind with swelling sail, tarried." 
We merrily scud before the gale, 
And reach the sound 
Where we were bound. 


One evening- late they were riding through Gautland, 
and Sigvat made these verses : 

"The weary horse will at nightfall Far from the Danes, we now may 
Gallop right well to reach his stall ; ride 

When night meets day, with hasty Safely by stream or mountain-side ; 

hoof But, in this twilight, in some ditch 

He plies the road to reach a roof. The horse and rider both may pitch." 

They rode through the merchant town of Skara, and 
down the street to the earl's house. He sang : 

"The shy sweet girls, from window Spur on ! that every pretty lass 

high, May hear our horse-hoofs as we pass 

In wonder peep at the sparks that fly Clatter upon the stones so hard, 

Prom our horses' heels, as down the And echo round the paved court- 
street yard." 

Of the earl's town we ride so fleet. 


One day Hjalte, and the skalds with him, went before 
the king, and he began thus : "It has so happened, king, 
as is known to you, that I have come here after a long 
and difficult journey; but when I had once crossed the 
ocean and heard of your greatness, it appeared to me 
unwise to go back without having seen you in your splen- 
dour and glory. Now it is a law between Iceland and 
Norway, that Iceland men pay landing due when they 
come into Norway, but while I was coming across the 
sea I took myself all the landing dues from my ship's 
people ; but knowing that you have the greatest right to all 
the power in Norway, I hastened hither to deliver to you 
the landing dues." With this he showed the silver to the 
king, and laid ten marks of silver in Gissur Black's lap. 

The king replies, "Few have brought us any such dues 

from Norway for some time; and now, Hjalte, I will 

return you my warmest thanks for having given yourself 

so much trouble to bring us the landing dues, rather than 

22 327 


pay them to our enemies. But I will that thoushouldsttake 
this money from me as a gift, and with it my friendship." 
Hjalte thanked the king with many words, and from 
that day set himself in great favour with the king, and 
often spoke with him; for the king thought, what was 
true, that he was a man of much understanding and elo- 
quence. Now Hjalte told Gissur and Ottar that he was 
sent with tokens to the king's daughter Ingegerd, to obtain 
her protection and friendship; and he begged of them to 
procure him some opportunity to speak with her. They 
answered, that this was an easy thing to do ; and went one 
day to her house, where she sat at the drinking table with 
many men. She received the skalds in a friendly manner, 
for they were known to her. Hjalte brought her a saluta- 
tion from the earl's wife, Ingebjorg; and said she had sent 
him here to obtain friendly help and succour from her, and 
in proof whereof produced his tokens. The king's daugh- 
ter received him also kindly, and said he should be 
welcome to her friendship. They sat there till late in the 
day drinking. The king's daughter made Hjalte tell her 
much news, and invited him to come often and converse 
with her. He did so : came there often, and spoke with 
the king's daughter; and at last entrusted her with the 
purpose of Bjorn's and his comrade's journey, and asked 
her how she thought the Swedish king would receive the 
proposal that there should be a reconciliation between the 
kings. The king's daughter replied, that, in her opinion, 
it would be a useless attempt to propose to the king any 
reconciliation with Olaf the Thick; for the king was so 
enraged against him, that he would not suffer his name to 



be mentioned before him. It happened one day that 
Hjalte was sitting with the king and talking to him, and 
the king was very merry and drunk. Then Hjalte said, 
"Manifold splendour and grandeur have I seen here; and I 
have now witnessed with my eyes what I have often 
heard of, that no monarch in the north is so magnificent: 
but it is very vexatious that we who come so far to visit 
it have a road so long and troublesome, both on account 
of the great ocean, but more especially because it is not 
safe to travel through Norway for those who are coming 
here in a friendly disposition. But why is there no one 
to bring proposals for a peace between you and King Olaf 
the Thick ? I heard much in Norway, and in West Gaut- 
land, of the general desire that this peace should have 
taken place ; and it has been told me for truth, as the Nor- 
way king's words, that he earnestly desires to be recon- 
ciled to you ; and the reason I know is, that he feels how 
much less his power is than yours. It is even said that 
he intends to pay his court to your daughter Ingegerd; 
and that would lead to a useful peace, for I have heard 
from people of credit that he is a remarkably distinguished 

The king answers, "Thou must not speak thus, Hjalte ; 
but for this time I will not take it amiss of thee, as thou 
dost not know what people have to avoid here. That fat 
fellow shall not be called king in my court, and there is 
by no means the stuff in him that people talk of : and thou 
must see thyself that such a connection is not suitable; 
for I am the tenth king in Upsala who, relation after rela- 
tion, has been sole monarch over the Swedish, and many 



other great lands, and all have been the superior kings over 
other kings in the northern countries. But Norway is 
little inhabited, and the inhabitants are scattered. There 
have only been small kings there; and although Harald 
Harfager was the greatest king in that country, and strove 
against the small kings, and subdued them, yet he knew 
so well his position that he did not covet the Swedish 
dominions, and therefore the Swedish kings let him; sit in 
peace, especially as there was relationship between them. 
Thereafter, while Hakon Athelstan's foster-son was in 
Norway he sat in peace, until he began to maraud in Gaut- 
land and Denmark ; on which a war- force came upon him, 
and took from him both life and land. Gunhild's sons also 
were cut off when they became disobedient to the Danish 
kings; and Harald Gormson joined Norway to his own 
dominions, and made it subject to scat to him. And we 
reckon Harald Gormson to be of less power and consid- 
eration than the Upsala kings, for our relation Styrbjorn 
subdued him, and Harald became his man ; and yet Eirik 
the Victorious, my father, rose over Styrbjorn's head 
when it came to a trial between them. When Olaf 
Trygvason came to Norway and proclaimed himself king, 
we would not permit it, but we went with King Svein, and 
cut him off; and thus we have appropriated Norway, as 
thou hast not heard, and with no less right than if I had 
gained it in battle, and by conquering the kings who ruled 
it before. Now thou canst well suppose, as a man of sense, 
that I will not let slip the kingdom of Norway for this 
thick fellow. It is wonderful he does not remember how 
narrowly he made his escape, when we had penned him in 



in the Malar lake. Although he slipped away with life 
from thence, he ought, methinks, to have something else 
in his mind than to hold out against us Swedes. Now, 
Hjalte, thou must never again open thy mouth in my 
presence on such a subject." 

Hjalte saw sufficiently that there was no hope of the 
king's listening to any proposal of a peace, and desisted 
from speaking of it, and turned the conversation to some- 
thing else. When Hjalte, afterwards, came into discourse 
with the king's daughter Ingegerd, he tells her his con- 
versation with the king. She told him she expected such 
an answer from the king. Hjalte begged of her to say a 
good word to the king about the matter, but she thought 
the king would listen as little to what she said: "But 
speak about it I will, if thou requirest it." Hjalte assured 
her he would be thankful for the attempt. One day the 
king's daughter Ingegerd had a conversation with her 
father Olaf ; and as she found her father was in a partic- 
ularly good humour, she said, "What is now thy intention 
with regard to the strife with Olaf the Thick? There are 
many who complain about it, having lost their property 
by it ; others have lost their relations by the Northmen, and 
all their peace and quiet ; so that none of your men see any 
harm that can be done to Norway. It would be a bad 
counsel if thou sought the dominion over Norway; for it 
is a poor country, difficult to come at, and the people dan- 
gerous : for the men there will rather have any other for 
their king than thee. If I might advise, thou wouldst let 
go all thoughts about Norway, and not desire Olaf's 
heritage ; and rather turn thyself to the kingdoms in the 


East country, which thy forefathers the former Swedish 
kings had, and which our relation Styrbjorn lately sub- 
dued, and let the thick Olaf possess the heritage of his 
forefathers and make peace with him." 

The king replies in a rage, "It is thy counsel, Ingegerd, 
that I should let slip the kingdom of Norway, and give 
thee in marraige to this thick Olaf. No/' says he, "some- 
thing else shall first take place. Rather than that, I shall, 
at the Upsala Thing in winter, issue a proclamation to all 
Swedes, that the whole people shall assemble for an expe- 
dition, and go to their ships before the ice is off the waters ; 
and I will proceed to Norway, and lay waste the land with 
fire and sword, and burn everything, to punish them for 
their want of fidelity." 

The king was so mad with rage that nobody ventured 
to say a word, and she went away. Hjalte, who was 
watching for her, immediately went to her, and asked how 
her errand to the king had turned out. She answered, it 
turned out as she had expected ; that none could venture 
to put in a word with the king; but, on the contrary, he 
had used threats ; and she begged Hjalte never to speak of 
the matter again before the king. As Hjalte and Ingegerd 
spoke together o>ften, Olaf the Thick was often the subject, 
and he told her about him and his manners; and Hjalte 
praised the king of Norway what he could, but said no 
more than was the truth, and she could well perceive it. 
Once, in a conversation, Hjalte said to her, "May I be per- 
mitted, daughter of the king, to tell thee what lies in my 

"Speak freely," says she; "but so that I alone can 
hear it." 


"Then," said Hjalte, "what would be thy answer, if 
the Norway king Olaf sent messengers to thee with the 
errand to propose marriage to thee?" 

She blushed, and answered slowly but gently, "I have 
not made up my mind to answer to that ; but if Olaf be in 
all respects so perfect as thou tellest me, I could wish for 
no other husband; unless, indeed, thou hast gilded him 
over with thy praise more than sufficiently." 

Hjalte replied, that he had in no respect spoken better 
of the king than was true. They often spoke together on 
the same subject. Ingegerd begged Hjalte to be cautious 
not to mention it to any other person, for the king would 
be enraged against him if it came to his knowledge. Hjalte 
only spoke of it to the skalds Gissur and Ottar, who 
thought it was the most happy plan, if it could but be car- 
ried into effect. Ottar, who was a man of great power of 
conversation, and much beloved in the court, soon brought 
up the subject before the king's daughter, and recounted 
to her, as Hjalte had done, all King Olaf s excellent quali- 
ties. Often spoke Hjalte and the others about him ; and 
now that Hjalte knew the result of his mission, he sent 
those Gautland men away who had accompanied him, and 
let them- return to the earl with letters 1 which the king's 
daughter Ingegerd sent to the earl and Ingebjorg. Hjalte 
also let them give a hint to the earl about the conversation 
he had had with Ingegerd, and her answer thereto; and 
the messengers came with it to the earl a little before Yule. 

1 This seems the first notice we have in the sagas of written letters 
being sent instead of tokens and verbal messages. L. 




When King Olaf had despatched Bjorn and his fol- 
lowers to Gautland, he sent other people also to the Up- 
lands, with the errand that they should have guest-quar- 
ters prepared for him, as he intended that winter (1018) 
to live as guest in the Uplands ; for it had been the custom 
of former kings to make a progress in guest-quarters 
every third year in the Uplands. In autumn he began his 
progress from Sarpsborg, and went first to Vingulmark. 
He ordered his progress so that he came first to lodge in 
the neighbourhood of the forest habitations, and sum- 
moned to him all the men of the habitations who dwelt at 
the greatest distance from the head-habitations of the dis- 
trict ; and he inquired particularly how it stood with their 
Christianity, and, where improvement was needful, he 
taught them the right customs. If any there were who 
would not renounce heathen ways, he took the matter so 
zealously that he drove some out of the country, mutilated 
others of hands or feet, or stung their eyes out ; hung up 
some, cut down some with the sword; but let none go 
unpunished who would not serve God. He went thus 
through the whole district, sparing neither great nor small. 
He gave them teachers, and placed these as thickly in the 
country as he saw needful. In this manner he went about 
in that district, and had 300 deadly men-at-arms with him ; 
and then proceeded to Raumarike. He soon perceived 
that Christianity was thriving less the farther he proceeded 
into the interior of the country. He went forward every- 
where in the same way, converting all the people to the 
right faith, and severely punishing all who would not 
listen to his word. 334 



Now when the king who at that time ruled in Rau- 
marike heard of this, he thought it was a very bad affair ; 
for every day came men to him, both great and small, who 
told him what was doing. Therefore this king re- 
solved to go up to Hedemark, and consult King Hrorek, 
who was the most eminent for understanding of the kings 
who at that time were in the country. Now when these 
kings spoke with each other, they agreed to send a message 
to Gudrod, the valley-king north, in the Gudbrandsdal, and 
likewise to the king who was in Hadaland, and bid them 
to come to Hedemark, to meet Hrorek and the other kings 
there. They did not spare their travelling ; for five kings 
met in Hedemark, at a place called Ringsaker. Ring, 
King Hrorek's brother, was the fifth of these kings. The 
kings had first a private conference together, in which he 
who came from Raumarike first took up the word, and 
told of King Olaf's proceedings, and of the disturbance 
he was causing both by killing and mutilating people. 
Some he drove out of the country, some he deprived of 
their offices or property if they spoke anything against 
him ; and, besides, he was travelling over the country with 
a great army, not with the number of people fixed by law 
for a royal progress in guest-quarters. He added, that 
he had fled hither upon account of this disturbance, and 
many powerful people with him had fled from their udal 
properties in Raumarike. "But although as yet the evil 
is nearest to us, it will be but a short time before ye will 
also be exposed to it ; therefore it is best that we all con- 
sider together what resolution we shall take." When he 



had ended his speech, Hrorek was desired to speak; and 
he said, "Now is the day come that I foretold when we had 
had our meeting at Hadaland, and ye were all so eager to 
raise Olaf over our heads ; namely, that as soon as he was 
the supreme master of the country we would find it hard 
to hold him by the horns. We have but two things now 
to do: the one is, to go all of us to him, and let him do 
with us as he likes, which I think is the best thing we 
can do; or the other is, to rise against him before he has 
gone farther through the country. Although he has 300 
or 400 men, that is not too great a force for us to meet, if 
we are only all in movement together: but, in general, 
there is less success and advantage to be gained when 
several of equal strength are joined together, than when 
one alone stands at the head of his own force; therefore 
it is my advice, that we do not venture to try our luck 
against Olaf Haraldson." 

Thereafter each of the kings spoke according to his own 
mind, some dissuading from going out against King 
Olaf, others urging it ; and no determination was come to, 
as each had his own reasons to produce. 

Then Gudrod, the valley-king, took up the word, and 
spoke : "It appears wonderful to me, that ye make such a 
long roundabout in coming to a resolution ; and probably 
ye are frightened for him. We are here five kings, and 
none of less high birth than Olaf. We gave him the 
strength to fight with Earl Svein, and with our forces he 
has brought the country under his power. But if he 
grudges each of us the little kingdom he had before, and 
threatens us with tortures, or gives us ill words, then, 



say I for myself, that I will withdraw myself from the 
king's slavery; and I do not call him a man among you 
who is afraid to cut him off, if he come into your hands 
here up in Hedemark. And this I can tell you, that we 
shall never bear our heads in safety while Olaf is in life." 
After this encouragement they all agreed to his determina- 

Then said Hrorek, "With regard to this determination, 
it appears to me necessary to make our agreement so 
strong that no one shall fail in his promise to the other. 
Therefore, if ye determine upon attacking Olaf at a fixed 
time, when he comes here to Hedemark, I will not trust 
much to you if some are north in the valleys, others up in 
Hedemark; but if our resolution is to come to anything, 
we must remain here assembled together day and night." 

This the kings agreed to, and kept themselves there all 
assembled, ordering a feast to be provided for them at 
Ringsaker, and drank there a cup to success ; sending out 
spies to Raumarike, and when one set came in sending out 
others, so that day and night they had intelligence of 
Olaf's proceedings, and of the numbers of his men. King 
Olaf went about in Raumarike in guest-quarters, and alto- 
gether in the way before related ; but as the provision of 
the guest-quarter was not always sufficient, upon account 
of his numerous followers, he laid it upon the bondes to 
give additional contributions wherever he found it neces- 
sary to stay. In some places he stayed longer, in others, 
shorter than was fixed; and his journey down to the 
lake Miosen was shorter than had been fixed on. The 
kings, after taking their resolution, sent out message- 



tokens, and summoned all the lendermen and powerful 
bondes from all the districts thereabout; and when they 
had assembled the kings had a private meeting with them, 
and made their determination known, setting a day for 
gathering together and carrying it into effect ; and it was 
settled among them that each of the kings should have 300 
(=360) men. Then they sent away the lendermen to 
gather the people, and meet all at the appointed place. 
The most approved of the measure ; but it happened here, 
as it usually does, that every one has some friend even 
among his enemies. 


Ketil of Ringanes was at this meeting. Now when 
he came home in the evening he took his supper, put on 
his clothes, and went down with his house-servants to 
the lake; took a light vessel which he had, the same 
that King Olaf had made him a present of, and launched 
it on the water. They found in the boat-house everything 
ready to their hands ; betook themselves to their oars, and 
rowed out into the lake. Ketil had forty well-armed men 
with him, and came early in the morning to the end of 
the lake. He set off immediately with twenty men, leav- 
ing the other twenty to look after the ship. King Olaf 
was at that time at Eid, in the upper end of Raumarike. 
Thither Ketil arrived just as the king was coming from 
matins. The king received Ketil kindly. He said he 
must speak with the king in all haste; and they had a 
private conference together. There Ketil tells the king 
the resolution which the kings had taken, and their 



agreement, which he had come to the certain knowledge 
of. When the king learnt this he called his people to- 
gether, and sent some out to collect riding-horses in the 
country; others he sent down to the lake to take all the 
rowing-vessels they could lay hold of, and keep them for 
his use. Thereafter he went to the church, had mass 
sung before him, and then sat down to table. After his 
meal he got ready, and hastened down to the lake, where 
the vessels were coming to meet him. He himself went 
on board the light vessel, and as many men with him. as 
it could stow, and all the rest of his followers took such 
boats as they could get hold of; and when it was getting 
late in the evening they set out from the land, in still and 
calm weather. He rowed up the water with 400 men, 
and came with them to Ringsaker before day dawned ; and 
the watchmen were not aware of the army before they 
were come into the very court. Ketil knew well in what 
houses the kings slept, and the king had all these houses 
surrounded and guarded, so that nobody could get out; 
and so they stood till daylight. The kings had not peo- 
ple enough to make resistance, but were all taken pris- 
oners, and led before the king. Hrorek was an able but 
obstinate man, whose fidelity the king could not trust to 
if he made peace with him ; therefore he ordered both his 
eyes to be punched out, and took him in that condition 
about with him. He ordered Gudrod's tongue to be 
cut out ; but Ring and two others he banished from Nor- 
way, under oath never to return. Of the lendermen 
and bondes who had actually taken part in the traitorous 
design, some he drove out of the country, some he mu- 



tilated, and with others he made peace. Ottar Black tells 
of this : 

"The giver of rings of gold, 
The army leader bold, 

In vengeance springs 

On the Hedemark kings. 
Olaf, the bold and great, 
Repays their foul deceit 

In full repays 

Their treacherous ways. 
He drives with steel-clad hand 
The small kings from the land, 

Greater by far 

In deed of war. 

The king who dwelt most north 
Tongueless must wander forth : 

All fly away 

In great dismay. 
King Olaf now rules o'er 
What five kings ruled before.. 

To Bid's old bound 

Extends his ground. 
No king in days of yore 
E'er won so much before : 

That this is so 

All Norsemen know." 

King Olaf took possession of the land these five kings 
had possessed, and took hostages from the lendermen and 
bondes in it. He took money instead of guest-quarters 
from the country north of the valley district, and from 
Hedemark ; and then returned to Raumarike, and so west 
to Hadaland. This winter (1018) his stepfather Sigurd 
Syr died; and King Olaf went to Ringerike, where his 
mother Asta made a great feast for him. Olaf alone bore 
the title of king now in Norway. 

75. KING 


It is told that when King Olaf was on his visit to his 
mother Asta, she brought out her children, and showed 
them to him. The king took his brother Guthorm on 
the one knee, and his brother Halfdan on the other. 
The king looked at Guthorm, made a wry face, and pre- 
tended to be angry at them; at which the boys were 
afraid. Then Asta brought her youngest son, called Har- 
ald, who was three years old, to him. The king made a 
wry face at him also; but he looked the king in the face 
without regarding it. The king took the boy by the hair, 
and plucked it ; but the boy seized the king's whiskers, 



ide peace. Ottar Black tells 

The king who dwelt most n 
Tongueless must wander forth : 

All fly away 

In great dismay. 
King Olaf now rules o'er 
What five kings ruled before.. 

To Eid's old bound 

Extends his ground. 
No king in days of yore * 
E'er won so much before : 

That this is so 

All Norsemen know." 

on of the land these five kings 

(from a, painting by Knut Ekwall.) 

stages from the lendermen and 
* 3 * J c 1 ^rfbfe D s f t-5! I te1f s a 

fiFW P laf PR* 3 * J c^bfg&e D st-5 I te1f| s a 

V. horse of great strength 'and swiftness/^the other a shep- 


i'i6&-iined felohi a p'eafedttfceti k^rRarrtii(prlsje;s torch gCR\^gfi of 

to f&K*a1tfri$} K* f wm8rffl^)^%^fjl^ f ^r3n 

o doe- proved, himself valorous as welLas fafthfvu an( j on, more 

stitjpusly. So ^^t^tisftiQ^^^^, this dog, called Vige, attached 
to King Olaf, that when he learned of his master's death it is 
said the poor ana^j^sj^d^^rSjj^^ funeral mound 

refused every temptation to remove therefrom and there re- 
mained whinftig fckefiaiK<i>fl^^^ 

ta, she brought out her children, andetoL 
:*em to him. The king took his brother Guthorm on 
the one knee, and his brother Halfdan on the other. 
The king looked at Guthorm, made a wry face, and pre- 
tended to be angry at them, at which the boys were 
afraid. Then Asta brought her youngest son, called Har- 
ald, who was three years old, to him. The king made a 
wry face at him also: but he looked the king in the face 
without regarding it. The king took the boy by the hair, 
and plucked it; but the boy seized the king's whiskers, 



and gave them a tug. "Then," said the king, "thou 
wilt be revengeful, my friend, some day." The following 
day the king was walking with his mother about the 
farm, and they came to a playground, where Asta's 
sons, Guthorm and Halfdan, were amusing themselves. 
They were building great houses and barns in their play, 
and were supposing them full of cattle and sheep; and 
close beside them, in a clay pool, Harald was busy with 
chips of wood, sailing them in his sport along the edge. 
The king asked him what these were; and he answered, 
these were his ships of war. The king laughed, and 
said, "The time may come, friend, when thou wilt com- 
mand ships." 

Then the king called to him Halfdan and Guthorm; 
and first he asked Guthorm, "What wouldst thou like 
best to have?" 

"Corn land," replied he. 

"And how great wouldst thou like thy corn land 
to be?" 

"I would have the whole ness that goes out into the 
lake sown with corn every summer." On that ness there 
are ten farms. 

The king replies, "There would be a great deal of corn 
there." And, turning to Halfdan, he asked, "And what 
wouldst thou like best to have?" 

"Cows," he replied. 

"How many wouldst thou like to have?" 

"When they went to the lake to be watered I would 
have so many, that they stood as tight round the lake as 
they could stand." 



"That would be a great housekeeping," said the king; 
"and therein ye take after your father." 

Then the king says to Harafd, "And what wouldst 
thou like best to have?" 


"And how many wouldst thou have?" 

"Oh! so many I would like to have as would eat up 
my brother Halfdan's cows at a single meal." 

The king laughed, and said to Asta, "Here, mother, 
thou art bringing up a king." And more is not related 
of them on this occasion. 


In Svithjod it was the old custom, as long as heathen- 
ism prevailed, that the chief sacrifice took place in Goe 
month at Upsala. Then sacrifice was offered for peace, 
and victory to the king ; and thither came people from all 
parts of Svithjod. All the Things of the Swedes, also, 
were held there, and markets, and meetings for buying, 
which continued for a week : and after Christianity was 
introduced into Svithjod, the Things and fairs were held 
there as before. After Christianity had taken root in 
Svithjod, and the kings would no longer dwell in Upsala, 
the market-time was moved to* Candlemas, and it has 
since continued so, and it lasts only three days. There 
is then the Swedish Thing also, and people from all quar- 
ters come there. Svithjod is divided into many parts. 
One part is West Gautland, Vermaland, and the Marks, 
with what belongs to them; and this part of the king- 
dom is so large, that the bishop who is set over it has 



1100 churches under him. The other part is East Gaut- 
land, where there is also a bishop's seat, to which the 
islands of Gotland and Eyland belong; and forming all 
together a still greater bishopric. In Svithjod itself 
there is a part of the country called Sudermanland, where 
there is also a bishopric. Then comes Westmanland, or 
Fiathrundaland, which is also a bishopric. The third 
portion of Svithjod proper is called Tiundaland; the 
fourth Attandaland; the fifth Sialand, and what belongs 
to it lies eastward alo<ng the coast. Tiundaland is the 
best and most inhabited part of Svithjod, under which 
the other kingdoms stand. There Upsala is situated, the 
seat of the king and archbishop; and from it Upsala- 
audr, or the domain of the Swedish kings, takes its name. 
Each of these divisions of the country has its Lag-thing, 
and its own laws in many parts. Over each is a lagman, 
who rules principally in affairs of the bondes; for that 
becomes law which he, by his speech, determines them to 
make law : and if king, earl, or bishop goes through the 
country, and holds a Thing with the bondes, the lagmen 
reply on account of the bondes, and they all follow their 
lagmen; so that even the most powerful men scarcely 
dare to come to their Al-thing without regarding the 
bondes' and lagmen's law. And in all matters in which 
the laws differ from each other, Upsala-law is the direct- 
ing law ; and the other lagmen are under the lagman who 
dwells in Tiundaland. 


In Tiundaland there was a lagman who was called 
Thorgny, whose father was called Thorgny Thorgny- 
23 343 


son. His forefathers had for a long course of years, 
and during many kings' times, been lagmen of Tiunda- 
land. At this time Thorgny was old, and had a great 
court about him. He was considered one of the wisest 
men in Sweden, and was Earl Ragnvald's relation and 


Now we must go back in our story to the time when the 
men whom the king's daughter Ingegerd and Hjalte had 
sent from the east came to Earl Ragnvald. They relate 
their errand to the earl and his wife Ingebjorg, and tell 
how the king's daughter had oft spoken to the Swedish 
king about a peace between him and King Olaf the 
Thick, and that she was a great friend of King Olaf; 
but that the Swedish king flew into- a passion every time 
she named Olaf, so that she had no hopes of any peace. 
The Earl told Bjorn the news he had received from the 
east; but Bjorn gave the same reply, that he would not 
turn back until he had met the Swedish king, and said 
the earl had promised to go with him. Now the winter 
was passing fast, and immediately after Yule the earl 
made himself ready to travel with sixty men, among whom 
were the marshal Bjorn and his companions. The earl 
proceeded eastward all the way to Svithjod; but when he 
came a little way into the country he sent his men before 
him to Upsala with a message to Ingegerd the king's 
daughter to come out to meet him at Ullaraker, where 
she had a large farm'. When the king's daughter got the 
earl's message she made herself ready immediately to 



travel with a large attendance, and Hjalte accompanied 
her. But before he took his departure he went to King 
Olaf, and said, "Continue always to be the most fortu- 
nate of monarchs ! Such splendour as I have seen about 
thee I have in truth never witnessed elsewhere, and 
wheresoever I come it shall not be concealed. Now, 
king, may I entreat thy favour and friendship in time to 
come?" " 

The king replies, "Why art thou in so great a haste, 
and where art thou going?" 

Hjalte replies, "I am to ride out to Ullaraker with 
Ingegerd thy daughter." 

The king says, "Farewell, then : a man thou art of un- 
derstanding and politeness, and well suited to live with 
people of rank." 

Thereupon Hjalte withdrew. 

The king's daughter Ingegerd rode to her farm in 
Ullaraker, and ordered a great feast to be prepared for 
the earl. When the earl arrived he was welcomed with 
gladness, and he remained there several days. The earl 
and the king's daughter talked much, and of many things, 
but most about the Swedish and Norwegian kings; and 
she told the earl that in her opinion there was no hope of 
peace between them. 

Then said the earl, "How wouldst thou like it, my 
cousin, if Olaf king of Norway were to pay his addresses 
to thee? It appears to us that it would contribute most 
towards a settled peace if there was relationship estab- 
lished between the kings ; but I would not support such a 
matter if it were against thy inclination." 



She replies, "My father disposes of my hand ; but among 
all my other relations thou art he whose advice I would 
rather follow in weighty affairs. Dost thou think it would 
be advisable ?" The earl recommended it to her strongly, 
and reckoned up many excellent achievements of King 
Olaf's. He told her, in particular, about what had lately 
been done; that King Olaf in an hour's time one morn- 
ing had taken five kings prisoners, deprived them all of 
their governments, and laid their kingdoms and proper- 
ties under his own power. Much they talked about the 
business, and in all their conversations they perfectly 
agreed with each other. When the earl was ready he 
took leave, and proceeded on his way, taking Hjalte with 


Earl Ragnvald came towards evening one day to the 
house of Lagman Thorgny. It was a great and stately 
mansion, and many people stood outside, who received 
the earl kindly, and took care of the horses and baggage. 
The earl went into the room, where there was a number 
of people. In the high-seat sat an old man; and never 
had Bjorn or his companions seen a man so stout. His 
beard was so long that it lay upon his knee, and was 
spread over his whole breast; and the man, moreover, 
was handsome and stately in appearance. The earl went 
forward and saluted him. Thorgny received him joy- 
fully and kindly, and bade him go to the seat he was ac- 
customed to take. The earl seated himself on the other 
side, opposite Thorgny. They remained there some days 
before the earl disclosed his errand, and then he asked 



Thorgny to go with him into the conversing room. 
Bjorn and his followers went there with the earl. Then 
the earl began, and told how Olaf king of Norway had 
sent these men hither to conclude a peaceful agreement. 
He showed at great length what injury it was of to the 
West Gautland people, that there was hostility between 
their country and Norway. He further related that Olaf 
the king of Norway had sent ambassadors, who were here 
present, and to whom he had promised he would attend 
them to the Swedish king; but he added, "The Swedish 
king takes the matter so grievously, that he has uttered 
menaces against those who entertain it. Now so it is, 
my foster-father, that I do not trust to myself in this mat- 
ter; but am come on a visit to thee to get good counsel 
and help from thee in the matter." 

Now when the earl had done speaking Thorgny sat 
silent for a while, and then took up the word. "Ye have 
curious dispositions who are so ambitious of honour and 
renown, and yet have no prudence or counsel in you when 
you get into any mischief. Why did you not consider, 
before you gave your promise to this adventure, that you 
had no power to stand against King Olaf ? In my opin- 
ion it is not a less honourable condition to be in the num- 
ber of bondes, and have one's words free, and be able to 
say what one will, even if the king be present. But I 
must go to the Upsala Thing, and give thee such help 
that without fear thou canst speak before the king what 
thou findest good." 

The earl thanked him for the promise, remained with 
Thorgny, and rode with him to the Upsala Thing. There 



was a great assemblage of people at the Thing, and King 
Olaf was there with his court. 


The first day the Thing sat, King Olaf was seated on a 
stool, and his court stood in a circle around him. Right 
opposite to him sat Earl Ragnvald and Thorgny in the 
Thing upon one stool, and before them the earl's court and 
Thorgny's house-people. Behind their stool stood the 
bonde community, all in a circle around them. Some stood 
upon hillocks and heights, in order to hear the better. 
Now when the king's messages, which are usually handled 
in the Things, were produced and settled, the marshal 
Bjorn rose beside the earl's stool, and said aloud, "King 
Olaf sends me here with the message that he will offer 
to the Swedish king peace, and the frontiers that in old 
times were fixed between Norway and Svithjod." He 
spoke so loud that the Swedish king could distinctly hear 
him ; but at first, when he heard King Olaf 's name spoken, 
he thought the speaker had some message or business of 
his own to execute ; but when he heard of peace, and the 
frontiers between Norway and Svithjod, he saw from 
what root it came, and sprang up, and called out that 
the man should be silent, for that such speeches were 
useless. Thereupon Bjorn sat down ; and when the noise 
had ceased Earl Ragnvald stood up and made a speech. 

He spoke of Olaf the Thick's message, and proposal 
of peace to Olaf the Swedish king; and that all the West 
Gautland people sent their entreaty to Olaf that he would 
make peace with the king of Norway. He recounted all 



the evils the West Gautlanders were suffering under; 
that they must go without all the things from Norway 
which were necessary in their households; and, on the 
other hand, were exposed to attack and hostility when- 
ever the king of Norway gathered an army and made an 
inroad on them. The earl added, that Olaf the Norway 
king had sent men hither with the intent to obtain In- 
gegerd the king's daughter in marriage. 

When the earl had done speaking Olaf the Swedish 
king stood up and replied, and was altogether against 
listening to any proposals of peace, and made many and 
heavy reproaches against the earl for his impudence in 
entering into a peaceful truce with the thick fellow, and 
making up a peaceful friendship with him, and which in 
truth he considered treason against himself. He added, 
that it would be well deserved if Earl Ragnvald were 
driven out of the kingdom. The earl had, in his opinion, 
the influence of his wife Ingebjorg to thank for what 
might happen; and it was the most imprudent fancy he 
could have fallen upon to take up with such a wife. The 
king spoke long and bitterly, turning his speech always 
against Olaf the Thick. When he sat down not a sound 
was to be heard at first. 


Then Thorgny stood up; and when he arose all the 
bondes stood up who had before been sitting, and rushed 
together from all parts to listen to what Lagman Thorgny 
would say. At first there was a great din of people and 
weapons; but when the noise was settled into silent lis- 



tening, Thorgny made his speech. "The disposition of 
Swedish kings is different now from what it has been 
formerly. My grandfather Thorgny could well remem- 
ber the Upsala king Eirik Eymundson, and used to say 
of him that when he was in his best years he went out 
every summer on expeditions to different countries, and 
conquered for himself Finland, Kirjalaland, Courland, 
Esthonia, and the eastern countries all around; and at 
the present day the earth-bulwarks, ramparts, and other 
great works which he made are to be seen. And, more- 
over, he was not so proud that he would not listen to 
people who had anything to say to him. My father, 
again, was a long time with King Bjorn, and was well 
acquainted with his ways and manners. In Bjorn's life- 
time his kingdom stood in great power, and no kind of 
want was felt, and he was gay and sociable with his 
friends. I also remember King Eirik the Victorious, 
and was with him on many a war-expedition. He en- 
larged the Swedish dominion, and defended it manfully; 
and it was also easy and agreeable to communicate our 
opinions to him. But the king we have now got allows 
no man to presume to talk with him, unless it be what 
he desires to hear. On this alone he applies all his power, 
while he allows his scat-lands in other countries to go 
from him through laziness and weakness. He wants to 
have the Norway kingdom laid under him, which no 
Swedish king before him ever desired, and therewith 
brings war and distress on many a man. Now it is our 
will, we bondes, that thou King Olaf make peace with 
the Norway king, Olaf the Thick, and marry thy daugh- 



ter Ingegerd to him. Wilt thou, however, reconquer the 
kingdoms in the east couritrieS which thy relations and 
forefathers had there, we will all for that purpose follow 
thee to the war. But if thou wilt not do as we desire, 
we will now attack thee, and put thee to death; for we 
will no longer suffer law and peace to be disturbed. So 
our forefathers went to work when they drowned five 
kings in a morass at the Mula-thing, and they were filled 
with the same insupportable pride thou hast shown to- 
wards us. Now tell us, in all haste, what resolution thou 
wilt take." Then the whole public approved, with clash 
of arms and shouts, the lagman's speech. 

The king stands up and says he will let things go ac- 
cording to the desire of the bondes. "All Swedish kings," 
he said, "have done so, and have allowed the bondes to 
rule in all according to their will." The murmur among 
the bondes then came to an end ; and the chiefs, the king, 
the earl, and Thorgny talked together, and concluded a 
truce and reconciliation, on the part of the Swedish king, 
according to the terms which the king of Norway had 
proposed by his ambassadors; and it was resolved at the 
Thing that Ingegerd, the king's daughter, should be mar- 
ried to Olaf Haraldson. The king left it to the earl to 
make the contract feast, and gave him full powers to con- 
clude this marriage affair; and after this was settled at 
the Thing, they separated. When the earl returned home- 
wards, he and the king's daughter Ingegerd had a meet- 
ing, at which they talked between themselves over this 
matter. She sent Olaf a long cloak of fine linen richly 
embroidered with gold, and with silk points. The earl 



returned to Gautland, and Bjorn with him; and after 
staying with him a short time, Bjorn and his company re- 
turned to Norway. When he came to King Olaf he told 
him the result of his errand, and the king returned him 
many thanks for his conduct, and said Bjorn had had 
great success in bringing his errand to so favourable a 
conclusion against such animosity. 


On the approach of spring (1018) King Olaf went 
down to the coast, had his ships rigged out, summoned 
troops to him, and proceeded in spring out from Viken 
to the Naze, and so north to Hordaland. He then sent 
messages to all the lendermen, selected the most consid- 
erable men in each district, and made the most splendid 
preparations to meet his bride. The wedding-feast was 
to be in autumn, at the Gaut river, on the frontiers of the 
two countries. King Olaf had with him the blind king 
Hrorek. When his wound was healed, the king gave 
him two men to serve him, let him. sit in the high-seat 
by his side, and kept him in meat and clothes in no re- 
spect worse than he had kept himself before. Hrorek 
was taciturn, and answered short and cross when any one 
spoke to him. It was his custom to make his footboy, 
when he went out in the daytime, lead him away from 
people, and then to beat the lad until he ran away. He 
would then complain to King Olaf that the lad would not 
serve him. The king changed his servants, but it was as 
before; no servant would hold it out with King Hrorek. 
Then the king appointed a man called Svein to wait upon 
and serve King Hrorek. He was Hrorek's relation, and 



had formerly been in his service. Hrorek continued with 
his habits of moroseness, and of solitary walks ; but when 
he and Svein were alone together, he was merry and talk- 
ative. He used to bring up many things which had hap- 
pened in former days when he was king. He alluded, 
too, to the man who had, in his former days, torn him 
from his kingdom, and happiness, and made him live on 
alms. "It is hardest of all," says he, "that thou and my 
other relations, who ought to be men of bravery, are so 
degenerated that thou wilt not avenge the shame and dis- 
grace brought upon our race." Such discourse he often 
brought out. Svein said, they had too great a power to 
deal with, while they themselves had but little means. 
Hrorek said, "Why should we live longer as mutilated 
men with disgrace? I, a blind man, may conquer them as 
well as they conquered me when I was asleep. Come 
then, let us kill this thick Olaf. He is not afraid for him- 
self at present. I will lay the plan, and would not spare 
my hands if I could use them, but that I cannot by reason 
of my blindness; therefore thou must use the weapons 
against him, and as soon as Olaf is killed I can see well 
enough that his power must come into the hands of his 
enemies, and it may well be that I shall be king, and thou 
shalt be my earl." So much persuasion he used that 
Svein, at last agreed to join in the deed. The plan was so 
laid that when the king was ready to go to vespers, Svein 
stood on the threshold with a drawn dagger under his 
cloak. Now w 7 hen the king came out of the room, it so 
happened that he walked quicker than Svein expected; 
and when he looked the king in the face he grew pale, and 



then white as a corpse, and his hand sank down. The 
king observed his terror, and said, "What is this, Svein ? 
Wilt thou betray me?" Svein threw down his cloak and 
dagger, and fell at the king's feet, saying, "All is in 
God's hands and thine, king!" The king ordered his 
men to seize Svein, and he was put in irons. The king 
ordered Hrorek's seat to be moved to another bench. He 
gave Svein his life, and he left the country. The king 
appointed a different lodging for Hrorek to sleep in from 
that in which he slept himself, and in which many of his 
court-people slept. He set two of his court-men, who 
had been long with him,, and whose fidelity he had proof 
of, to attend Hrorek day and night; but it is not said 
whether they were people of high birth or not. King 
Hrorek's mood was. very different at different times. 
Sometimes he would sit silent for days together, so that 
no man could get a word out of him;; and sometimes he 
was so merry and gay, that* people found a joke in every 
word he said. Sometimes his words were very bitter. 
He was sometimes in a mood that he would drink them 
all under the benches, and made all his neighbours drunk ; 
but in general he drank but little. King Olaf gave him 
plenty of pocket-money. When he went to his lodgings 
he would often, before going to bed, have some stoups 
of mead brought in, which he gave to all the men in the 
house to drink, so that he was much liked. 


There was a man from the Uplands called Fin the 
Little, and some said of him that he was of Finnish 1 race. 

1 The Laplanders are called Fins in Norway and Sweden. L. 



He was a remarkable little man, but so swift of foot that 
no horse could overtake him. He w r as a particularly 
well-exercised runner with snow-shoes, and shooter with 
the bow. He had long been in the service of King 
Hrorek, and often employed in errands of trust. He 
knew the roads in all the Upland hills, and was well known 
to all the great people. Now when King Hrorek was 
set under guards on the journey Fin would often slip in 
among the men of the guard, and followed, in general, 
with the lads and serving-men; but as often as he could 
he waited upon Hrorek, and entered into conversation 
with him. The king, however, only spoke a word or two 
with him at a time, to prevent suspicion. In spring, when 
they came a little way beyond Viken, Fin disappeared 
from the army for some days, but came back, and stayed 
with them a while. This happened often, without any 
one observing it particularly; for there were many such 
hangers-on with the army. 


King Olaf came to Tunsberg before Easter (1018), 
and remained there late in spring. Many merchant ves- 
sels came to the town, both from Saxon-land and Den- 
mark, and from Viken, and from the north parts of the 
country. There was a great assemblage of people; and 
as the times were good, there was many a drinking meet- 
ing. It happened one evening that King Hrorek came 
rather late to his lodging; and as he had drunk a great 
deal, he was remarkably merry. Little Fin came to him 



with a stoup of mead with herbs in it, and very strong. 
The king made every one in the house drunk, until they 
fell asleep each in his berth. Fin had gone away, and a 
light was burning in the lodging. Hrorek waked the 
men who usually followed him, and told them he wanted 
to go out into the yard. They had a lantern with them, 
for outside it was pitch dark. Out in the yard there was 
a large privy standing upon pillars, and a stair to go up 
to it. While Hrorek and his guards were in the yard 
they heard a man say, "Cut down that devil;" and pres- 
ently a crash, as if somebody fell. Hrorek said, "These 
fellows must be dead drunk to be fighting with each 
other so: run and separate them." They rushed out; 
but when they came out upon the steps both of them were 
killed : the man who went out the last was the first killed. 
There were twelve of Hrorek's men there, and among 
them Sigurd Hit, who had been his banner-man, and 
also little Fin. They drew the dead bodies up between 
the houses, took the king with them, ran out to a boat 
they had in readiness, and rowed away. Sigvat the skald 
slept in King Olaf's lodgings. He got up in the night, 
and his footboy with him, and went to the privy. But as 
they were returning, on going down the stairs Sigvat's 
foot slipped, and he fell on his knee; and when he put 
out his hands he felt the stairs wet. "I think," said he, 
laughing, "the king must have given many of us totter- 
ing legs to-night." When they came into the house in 
which light was burning the footboy said, "Have you 
hurt yourself that you are all over so bloody?" He re- 
plied, "I am not wounded, but something must have hap- 



pened here." Thereupon he wakened Thord Folason, 
who was standard-bearer, and his bedfellow. They went 
out with a light, and soon found the blood. They traced 
it, and found the corpses, and knew them. They saw 
also a great stump of a tree in which clearly a gash had 
been cut, which, as was afterwards known, had been done 
as a stratagem to entice those out who had been killed. 
Sigvat and Thord spoke together and agreed it was 
highly necessary to let the king know of this without de- 
lay. They immediately sent a lad to the lodging where 
Hrorek had been. All the men in it were asleep ; but the 
king was gone. He wakened the men who were in the 
house, and told them what had happened. The men arose, 
and ran out to the yard where the bodies were ; but, how- 
ever needful it appeared to be that the king should know 
it, nobody dared to waken him. 

Then said Sigvat to Thord, "What wilt thou rather 
do, comrade, waken the king, or tell him, the tidings?" 

Thord replies, "I do not dare to waken him, and I 
would rather tell him the news." 

Then said Sigvat, "There is much of the night still 
to pass, and before morning Hrorek may get himself 
concealed in such a way that it may be difficult to find 
him; but as yet he cannot be very far off, for the bodies 
are still warm. We must never let the disgrace rest 
upon us of concealing this treason from the king. Go 
thou, up to the lodging, and wait for me there." 

Sigvat then went to the church, and told the bell- 
ringer to toll for the souls of the king's court-men, nam- 
ing the men who were killed. The bell-ringer did as he 



was told. The king awoke at the ringing, sat up in his 
bed, and asked if it was already the hours of matins. 

Thord replies, "It is worse than that, for there has 
occurred a very important affair. Hrorek is fled, and 
two of the court-men are killed." 

The king asked how this had taken place, and Thord 
told him all he knew. The king got up immediately, or- 
dered to sound the call for a meeting of the court, and 
when the people were assembled he named men to go out 
to every quarter from the town, by sea and land, to search 
for Hrorek. Thorer Lange took a boat, and set off with 
thirty men; and when day; dawned they saw two small 
boats before them in the channel, and when they saw 
each other both parties rowed as hard as they could. 
King Hrorek was there with thirty men. When they 
came quite close to each other Hrorek and his men turned 
towards the land, and all sprang on shore except the 
king, who sat on the aft seat. He bade them' farewell, 
and wished they might meet each other again in better 
luck. At the same moment Thorer with his company 
rowed to the land. Fin the Little shot off an arrow, 
which hit Thorer in the middle of the body, and was 
his death; and Sigurd Hit, with his men, ran up into 
the forest. Thorer's men took his body, and trans- 
ported it, together with Hrorek, to Tunsberg. King 
Olaf undertook himself thereafter to look after King 
Hrorek, made him be carefully guarded, and took good 
care of his treason, for which reason he had a watch 
over him night and day. King Hrorek thereafter was 
very gay, and nobody could observe but that he was in 
every way well satisfied. 

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